Underserved But Overfed
So, is the “if you build it, they will come” mind set really a working solution when it comes to getting American consumers to make healthier food choices? First Lady Michelle Obama seems to think so. Her recent announcement that Walmart and several other major retailers plan to expand their fresh produce and healthy food choices in 1,500 stores in communities that perhaps do not have as easy access to such fare is a continuation of Ms. Obama’s push nationwide to reduce childhood obesity rates, and per her opinion a really big deal. Well, yes and no. That depends on whether or not there really are food deserts, areas that lack access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods, in the United States. According to a 2009 USDA report a very small percentage of Americans have limited access to affordable nutritious food, but other studies show that even when healthier food options are available in so called “food deserts”, many of these consumers continue to buy less healthy food choices based solely on personal taste preferences. So much for the easy “if it’s available, they will choose it” fix.