Tag Archives: Anne Vernez Moudon

Even when food comes to food deserts, lifestyle reigns

10 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART which is actually an update. Moi wrote in ‘Food deserts’: Just how much does personal choice have to do with it?
The Seattle Times published an opinion piece, Op-ed: Bringing relief to food deserts in King County by Anne Vernez Moudon and Adam Drewnowski:

City and county leaders should take more aggressive action to bring relief to food deserts with aggressive development policies and incentives, according to guest columnists Anne Vernez Moudon and Adam Drewnowski. http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2019699347_moudondrewnowskiopedxml.html

Here is the definition of a “food desert”:

Definition for food desert:Web definitions: A food desert is a district with little or no access to foods needed to maintain a healthy diet but often served by plenty of fast food… en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert

That got moi thinking whether the issue isn’t as much personal choice as “food dessert.”

First, there is the New York Times article, Studies Question the Pairing of Food Deserts and Obesity by Gina Kolata:

It has become an article of faith among some policy makers and advocates, including Michelle Obama, that poor urban neighborhoods are food deserts, bereft of fresh fruits and vegetables.
But two new studies have found something unexpected. Such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too. And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents.
Within a couple of miles of almost any urban neighborhood, “you can get basically any type of food,” said Roland Sturm of the RAND Corporation, lead author of one of the studies. “Maybe we should call it a food swamp rather than a desert,” he said.
Some experts say these new findings raise questions about the effectiveness of efforts to combat the obesity epidemic simply by improving access to healthy foods. Despite campaigns to get Americans to exercise more and eat healthier foods, obesity rates have not budged over the past decade, according to recently released federal data.
“It is always easy to advocate for more grocery stores,” said Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, who was not involved in the studies. “But if you are looking for what you hope will change obesity, healthy food access is probably just wishful thinking.”
Advocates have long called for more supermarkets in poor neighborhoods and questioned the quality of the food that is available. And Mrs. Obama has made elimination of food deserts an element of her broader campaign against childhood obesity, Let’s Move, winning praise from Democrats and even some Republicans, and denunciations from conservative commentators and bloggers who have cited it as yet another example of the nanny state….
Some researchers and advocates say that further investigation is still needed on whether grocery stores and chain supermarkets in poor neighborhoods are selling produce that is too costly and of poor quality. “Not all grocery stores are equal,” said John Weidman, deputy executive director of the Food Trust, an advocacy group in Philadelphia. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/health/research/pairing-of-food-deserts-and-obesity-challenged-in-studies.html?_r=0

Well duh, it appears that lifestyle choice has a great deal to do with good food choices.

Patti Neighmond reported in the NPR story, It Takes More Than A Produce Aisle To Refresh A Food Desert:

In inner cities and poor rural areas across the country, public health advocates have been working hard to turn around food deserts — neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce, and greasy fast food abounds. In many cases, they’re converting dingy, cramped corner markets into lighter, brighter venues that offer fresh fruits and vegetables. In some cases, they’re building brand new stores.
“The presumption is, if you build a store, people are going to come,” says Stephen Matthews, professor in the departments of sociology, anthropology and demography at Penn State University. To check that notion, he and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recently surveyed residents of one low-income community in Philadelphia before and after the opening of a glistening new supermarket brimming with fresh produce.
What they’re finding, Matthews says, is a bit surprising: “We don’t find any difference at all. … We see no effect of the store on fruit and vegetable consumption.”
Now, to be fair, the time was short. The store was only open for six months before residents were surveyed. Matthews says most residents knew that the store was there and that it offered healthy food. But only 26 percent said it was their regular “go to” market. And, as might be expected, those who lived close to the store shopped there most regularly.
Matthews says the findings dovetail with other work, and simply point to the obvious: Lots more intervention is needed to change behavior. For one thing, we’re all used to routine, and many of us will just keep shopping where we’ve been shopping, even if a newer, more convenient and bountiful store moves in.
But more than that, he says, many people, particularly in low-income food deserts, just aren’t used to buying or preparing healthy meals — they haven’t had the opportunity, until now.
Alex Ortega, a public health researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, agrees that providing access to nutritious food is only the first step.
“The next part of the intervention is to create demand,” he says, “so the community wants to come to the store and buy healthy fruits and vegetables and go home and prepare those foods in a healthy way, without lots of fat, salt or sugar.”
Ortega directs a UCLA project that converts corner stores into hubs of healthy fare in low-income neighborhoods of East Los Angeles. He and colleagues work with community leaders and local high school students to help create that demand for nutritious food. Posters and signs promoting fresh fruits and vegetables hang in corner stores, such as the Euclid Market in Boyle Heights, and at bus stops. There are nutrition education classes in local schools, and cooking classes in the stores themselves….
The jury’s still out on whether these conversions of corner stores are actually changing people’s diets and health. The evidence is still being collected. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/10/273046077/takes-more-than-a-produce-aisle-to-refresh-a-food-desert

In other words, much of the obesity problem is due to personal life style choices and the question is whether government can or should regulate those choices.

Personal Responsibility:
There is only one person responsible for your life and the vocation you have chosen. That person is the one you see in the mirror in the morning when you wake up. Don’t blame God, your boss, your parents, your former teachers, your coach, your co-workers or your dog. You and only you are responsible for your work life and what you have achieved. The sooner you accept this notion, the sooner you will begin to make changes that lead to a happier and more productive life and career. http://www.corethemes.com/coreconcepts/

It’s all about ME unless I have to take responsibility for ME. The same brilliant minds who think the government can substitute for family have fostered a single parenthood rate of 70% in the African-American community and about 50% for the population as a whole. Given the child abuse and foster care numbers, this plan hasn’t worked well. Sometimes folks have to be responsible for their choices.

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