Obesity is clearly linked to people’s dietary habits and what they decide to put in their mouths. It has long been thought that obesity is linked to the nearby presence of fast food diners and stores that sell unhealthy food options. This argument was used to account for the high obesity rate in poor neighborhoods, where there is a greater concentration of fast food joints. However, new study shows that this may not be the case.
Research found that those who shop at pricier supermarkets have a lower rate of obesity, as opposed to those who primarily obtain their foods from lower priced stores.
The study consisted of a survey over the phone in which participants were asked questions about their shopping habits, such as where they shopped and food brands they normally pick out. Information regarding the surveyor’s income, education and demographics were also collected.
The findings showed that only about one in seven people selected their shopping location based on its proximity from their home. This suggests that grocery store location may not influence obesity to the degree previously suspected.
What the study did show was that the obesity rate was 27 percent for the category of those who reported shopping at low-cost and thrift supermarkets. This is compared to just nine percent for those who shop at higher priced grocery outlets.
According to a report from the American Public Health Association, the key to combating obesity is to make healthier food options more affordable, especially in low income cities.
The problem is that a box of Twinkies tends to be cheaper than a bag of apples or oranges. It is hard to make informed decisions about food choice when your selection is seriously limited by your income. People will gravitate towards healthier and natural foods when their price is eliminated as a roadblock.