A new study found “no strong evidence” that being within walking distance to food outlets was associated with being obese or not.

Researchers at UCLA and the Rand Corporation analyzed data from the California Health Interview Survey — nearly 100,000 people were included — and published their findings in Preventing Chronic Disease.

The L.A. Times picks up the story:

Given the attention to the idea of food deserts – areas with limited access to healthful food – and their effect on people’s health, the researchers wanted to find how much it mattered to have stores and restaurants within walking distance, which they defined as a mile from home.

But the number of fast-food outlets within three miles of home was associated with eating more fast food, fried potatoes and caloric soft drinks, and with less frequent consumption of produce, the researchers said. And they found that the number of large supermarkets within 1.5 miles and three miles of home was associated with drinking fewer caloric soft drinks.

They said “shopping patterns are weakly related, if at all, to neighborhoods in the United States because of access to motorized transportation.” …

“Evidence is more tentative than often presented in the news media and in policy arguments” linking obesity with the food environment, the researchers said. That is, the idea that people who live close to lots of fast-food outlets and far from big, well-stocked supermarkets are more likely to be overweight or obese, or to show other health results of poor eating habits.

“The evidence is not clear on whether promoting or discouraging a particular type of food outlet is an effective approach to promoting healthful dietary behavior and weight status,” the researchers said. Los Angeles has tried legislating the types of food outlets in South L.A. to help bring down obesity rates.



Food Deserts Not Strongly Connected to Obesity, Study Shows 29 March,2013Lisa Aliferis

  • Darlene S. Esser

    upto I saw the paycheck four $9688, I have faith
    …that…my neighbours mother was like they say really bringing in money in
    their spare time online.. there best friend has done this for under fourteen
    months and recently took care of the morgage on their place and purchased a
    brand new Alfa Romeo. we looked here, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • Fiona Jesse Giffords

    It is all in the mind which tempts you to eat more. If the fast foods and restaurants are nearby then it’s obvious that most of the people will go for it rather than cooking healthy food at home. It up to you how you choose the better option for you.

  • talk about white privilege

    Perhaps it is not a direct correlation with obesity, but the issue at hand with food deserts IS the lack of access to healthy, affordable and culturally relevant food options. Food deserts are not found in affluent white neighborhoods, but rather in marginalized communities of color. I find this study offensive in ignoring the bigger issue of the social construction of food deserts. Other studies have also shown that when the option of healthy food is available, people will eat it.


Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED’s State of Health blog. Since 2011, she’s been writing and editing stories for the site. Before taking up blogging, she toiled for many years (more than we can count) producing health stories for television, including Dateline NBC and San Francisco’s CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV. She also wrote up a handy guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. Her work has been honored for many awards. Most recently she was a finalist for “Best Topical Reporting” from the Online News Association. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis

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