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Research and Reports


Improving Access to Healthy Food

Research Demonstrating a Connection between Healthy Food Access and Diet-Related Disease
Over the past 20 years, more than 300 studies have demonstrated a clear relationship between healthy food access, diet, and obesity.  The vast majority of that research finds that people who live in neighborhoods with better access to healthy food also have better nutrition and better health. The following highlights some of that research demonstrating the connection between food access and health:

  • An April 2012 article in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that children living in neighborhoods with healthy food and safe play spaces are 56 percent less likely to be obese than children in neighborhoods without these features.
  • A Los Angeles based study, also in the American Journal of Preventative Medicinefound that a longer distance traveled to reach a grocery store was associated with higher BMI.
  • 2008 California study found obesity rates are 20 percent higher in low-income areas with high densities of fast-food and convenience stores compared to low-income areas with lower densities of outlets selling primarily unhealthy foods.
  • A multi-state study in the American Journal of Public Health found that African Americans are more likely to meet dietary guidelines for fruits and vegetables when they live in a census tract with a supermarket; and for every additional supermarket in a tract, produce consumption increases 32 percent for African Americans and 11 percent for whites, according to a multi-state study.

See here for talking points addressing a recent study published in Health Affairs.

See here for full PolicyLink Talking Points addressing the New York Times article questioning the relationship between healthy food access and diet-related disease.

See here for a graphic showing the results from a recent poll of Americans. Highlights include a finding that 93% of Americans say it is important that all Americans have equal access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

PolicyLink Healthy Food Access Resources
PolicyLink has produced reports that highlight the problem of access to healthy food, ways that communities are advancing innovative solutions to the problem, and policies that can support communities in achieving their vision.

There are additional resources available through the websites of the Convergence Partnership, a coalition of funders working to support Healthy People in Healthy Places which is supported by PolicyLink.