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» No strong evidence found between food outlets near homes/schools and diet/body weight

No strong evidence found between food outlets near homes/schools and diet/body weight

Dr. Ruopeng An and his colleagues have examined the relationship between neighborhood food environments and diet/obesity from a variety of perspectives, resulting in four peer-reviewed journal publications. Each study has explored different datasets, populations, and settings using refined methodologies to capture a wide range of food environments. In general, they found little evidence to support the “food desert” hypothesis that greater exposure to fast food outlets, convenience stores, and small food stores and less access to large supermarkets result in poorer diet quality or higher obesity rate. The research findings have been widely publicized by the mass media such as New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe, and noticed by policymakers. Recently the California Senate Republican Caucus briefing report cited their recent publication at the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and recommended reconsidering “the wisdom of devoting scarce resources to eradicating food deserts as the state faces a multibillion dollar budget deficit.”

(1) Hattori A, An R, Sturm R. Association between neighborhood food outlets and diet and obesity among California adults. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2013;10:120123
(2) An R, Sturm R. School and residential neighborhood food environment and diet among California youth. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2012;42(2):129-135
(3) Shier V, An R, Sturm R. Is there a robust relationship between neighborhood food environment and childhood obesity in the United States? Public Health. 2012;126(9):723-730
(4) Truong K, Fernandes M, An R, Shier V, Sturm R. Measuring the physical food environment and its relationship with obesity: evidence from California. Public Health. 2010;124(2):115-118