California Study Links Obesity and Food Environment

April 30, 2008 at 1:57 pm 1 comment

California researchers this week released a report suggesting that obesity and diabetes are more prevalent in neighborhoods with a high ratio of fast food restaurants and convenience stores to grocery stores and produce vendors.  You can see the study here and read a Los Angeles times story here (subscription required).

The authors call on policymakers to undertake small-scale retail innovations, such as adding mobile produce vendors and farmers’ markets; leverage recent changes to the federal Women, Infants and Children food package to expand the number of authorized vendors and increase capacity at existing vendors; and require restaurant menu nutrition labeling to help consumers make more informed meal choices. In addition, the authors recommend that community planners address the food environment, in part through zoning decisions designed to limit fast food restaurants in already oversaturated neighborhoods.

A smaller, but illustrative, survey of convenience stores in the southwest quadrant of Rochester conducted by SWAN and a University of Rochester student last summer revealed that lack of healthy food options for residents.

Locally, the there is an effort beginning in Monroe County to develop an agenda for policy changes that can prevent childhood obesity. This effort consists of a policy team of community leaders who represent schools, parent groups, restaurants, recreation organizations, etc.  Lead by the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency in partnership with URMC’s Center for Community Health and Department of Pediatrics, and the Children’s Agenda, the effort is considering and selecting most promising policy changes for our community.

Additionally, several community organizations have – over the last couple of years – been taking steps to bring healthier food options to city residents.  This includes new farmer’s markets, produce stands, and projects in cooperation with FoodLink and other organizations.

We will have more to report on these projects as they unfold.

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Entry filed under: Adolescents, Adults, Children, Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity, Physical Activity.

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