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New Study Raises Questions About Relevance of Food Deserts

The role of access to fresh food in contributing to people's eating habits has been at the heart of efforts to identify and eliminate 'food deserts.' However, a new study questions the connection between obesity and the food environment.
April 5, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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According to a study published recently in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, "[t]here’s no strong evidence of an association between living within walking distance of places to buy food and being overweight or not," reports Mary MacVean. The study, which relied on surveys of 97,678 adults in the California, found that “shopping patterns are weakly related, if at all, to neighborhoods in the United States because of access to motorized transportation.” 

"But the number of fast-food outlets within three miles of home was associated with eating more fast food, fried potatoes and caloric soft drinks, and with less frequent consumption of produce, the researchers said."

“'Evidence is more tentative than often presented in the news media and in policy arguments' linking obesity with the food environment, the researchers said....'The evidence is not clear on whether promoting or discouraging a particular type of food outlet is an effective approach to promoting healthful dietary behavior and weight status.'"

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Published on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 in Los Angeles Times
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