Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Do supermarkets improve our diets?

From Marginal Revolution: Do supermarkets improve our diets?: "
Maybe not:
Better access to supermarkets — long touted as a way to curb obesity in low-income neighborhoods — doesn’t improve people’s diets, according to new research. The study, which tracked thousands of people in several large cities for 15 years, found that people didn’t eat more fruits and vegetables when they had supermarkets available in their neighborhoods.
Instead, income — and proximity to fast food restaurants — were the strongest factors in food choice.
The original piece (gated) is here."
I have been ranting about this too for a long time. People that say the reason low income people are obese is because the evil market has denied them access to healthy food supermarkets. When in fact, that's the opposite of how markets work. Obese low income people do not have access to healthy food because they don't demand healthy food. You need to change those demands. Vegetables and salads are inherently much cheaper to produce than hamburgers, the only reason they tend to be expensive is because they cater to high income people who demand those things. NPR made a great point a while ago that if you want to see low income people buying cheap produce, just go to chinatown.
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