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Michelle Obama's Push to Transform Food Deserts

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, July 22, 2011 - 11:18am

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Michelle Obama's Push to Transform Food Deserts

This week, First Lady Michelle Obama met with executives from Walmart, SuperValu, Walgreens and smaller grocery stores around the country to discuss the latest initiative in her Let’s Move! campaign. The goal? Get more fresh, healthy food into food deserts around the country. (Food deserts—those swaths of urban and rural areas around the country with limited access to supermarkets—are often cited as a factor in the obesity epidemic. It’s hard to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables if you can’t find them in your neighborhood, right?) The First Lady extracted a pledge from those corporate executives to get 1,500 stores selling fruits and vegetables in food deserts, making healthy food available to 9.5 million Americans. To put that in perspective, 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts.

A new study released this week, however, questioned the idea that just offering healthier food in these areas would be enough to help the people who live there eat better. It found that proximity to grocery stores didn’t effect an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption, but low-income men who lived near fast food restaurants ate at them more often. Still, this study is unlikely to soften the push to create more healthy eating “oases” in food deserts. I think that expanding access to fruits and vegetables in areas where access is limited is a good thing. It gives people living in food deserts more choice, so I applaud the move by the food industry and the First Lady to tackle this issue.

What are your thoughts? Do you think increasing access to fruits and vegetables will mean that people will eat more of them?

Do you think increasing access to fruits and vegetables will mean that people will eat more of them? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Kerri-Ann Jennings, Food & health news, Nutrition

Kerri-Ann Jennings
Kerri-Ann Jennings is a registered dietitian with a master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University.

Kerri-Ann asks: Do you think increasing access to fruits and vegetables will mean that people will eat more of them?

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