Friday, July 31, 2009

Food Desert and Obesity

According to Schafft, Jensen, and Hinrich (2009) stated, the concept of the food desert, which is an area with limited access to full-service grocery stores, “has increasingly been used within social scientific and public health research to explore the dimensions of spatial inequality and community well-being.” (p.158). Various researches have been done respecting the relationship between food desert and the level of poverty. However, little researches have been conducted to examine the connection between food deserts and obesity. In article, Food Deserts and Overweight Schoolchildren: Evidence from Pennsylvania, Schafft, Jensen, and Hinrich (2009) have found a positive correlation between increased rates of child overweight and the percentage of the district population residing in a food desert in Pennsylvania. The access to retail food store has not only indicated the level of poverty of an area but also exposed the health issue in that area. People are getting overweight with their non-nutritional diet from fast food restaurants. In the same article, the authors have found that by introducing even just a food outlet store within the area could have positive impact on people’s diets, which would lead to a healthier diet. (2009)

Interestingly, upon another research in UK, Glanville (2001) emphasized that, “in Europe, the poor are not necessarily poor in food.” There are some people who live close to grocery store, yet live in a life style as they were living in a food desert. A reason Glanville pointed out was that healthy food is not the type some want to eat. Perhaps due to the convenience of the fast food restaurant, the uninformed nutrition status on fast food, or the ignorance to the difference between healthy and unhealthy food, some have chosen a life style as living in food desert, even though they are not in one. This has enlarged the problem of obesity worldwide.

by Peichen Su


Glanville, J. (2001, June 25). How to survive in a food desert. New Statesman, 130(4543), 26.

Schafft, K., Jensen, E., & Hinrichs, C. (2009, June). Food Deserts and Overweight Schoolchildren: Evidence from Pennsylvania. Rural Sociology, 74(2), 153.

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