Cost, Rather Than Compass, May be Key to Healthy Eating

Efforts to alleviate urban food deserts has focused on the proximity of healthy food choices as a correlating factor for obesity. However, a new study concludes that price, rather than proximity, has a stronger correlation to rates of obesity.

Sarah Kliff reports on a new study authored by the University of Washington's Adam Drewnowski, that may upend how communities across the country seek to increase access to health food in an effort to combat obesity.

Further muddying the waters around the issue of food deserts, as a growing number of studies raise questions about the connection between fresh food access and obesity, the study found that "proximity to the nearest supermarket had no impact on obesity rates."

Compiling the results of surveys conducted in Seattle, researchers found that, "What did matter, however, was price: The patrons of the lower-priced grocery store (like Safeway) tended to have a higher rate of obesity than those who shopped at the higher-priced grocery stores in the study (think Whole Foods). That relationship held true after adjusting for variables like education and income. It makes Drewnowski think that 'choice of primary food source was driven by price.'"

"Drewnowski's research suggests it might be worth putting more focus on that element of the intervention [reducing economic barriers to healthy food], and paying less attention to proximity," writes Kliff.

Full Story: Study: Proximity to healthy foods doesn’t matter. Price does.


Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

The Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is the only comprehensive ranking and listing of graduate urban planning programs available.
Starting at $24.95
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!