If people who ran the highest risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes were offered more fruits and vegetables to offset or prevent these health risks, would they eat them?
Study after study shows that when low-income populations have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, they significantly improve their diets.
Yet, in most neighborhoods, fast food and convenience stores, not known for their wealth of fresh produce, are the most accessible choices for shopping.
A public health advocacy report by UCLA and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy called Designed for Disease: The Link Between Local Food Environments and Obesity and Diabetes found that the state of California had four times as many fast food restaurants and convenience stores as it did groceries or public produce markets. (The picture is likely the same or worse in other states.) The study further found a high degree of correlation between access to healthy food and an increased incidence of diabetes. This was exacerbated in lower income areas, where for many residents walking or public transportation are their only means of getting around.
The solution: Bring farmer’s markets to more urban areas. It’s greener and healthier.
Across the country, public health and community planners are joining forces to help change attitudes and eating habits by bringing farmer’s markets to lower-income residents. Community health clinics and government offices that provide vouchers, and other types of programs are bolstering these initiatives. Recently, WIC vouchers were amended to include fresh fruits and vegetables.
One of those new markets is in Brownsville, Texas, where the community and the University of Texas School of Public Health have come together to help increase awareness of the links between diet, obesity, and diabetes - and found an enthusiastic response.