Tackling America's Eating Habits, One Store at a Time

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Science  21 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6101, pp. 1473-1475
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6101.1473

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Lack of access to healthy foods is thought to contribute to obesity. It also seems among the easiest and cheapest factors to modify. First lady Michelle Obama's plan to combat childhood obesity includes the elimination of "food deserts," defined as low-income communities that are a significant distance from a full-fledged grocery store, though the specifics vary depending on whether the neighborhoods are urban or rural, among other factors. Swapping food deserts for stores boasting fresh produce and other healthy foods—and using varied strategies in hopes of coaxing locals to buy them—comes with two questions. First, does promoting these foods change eating habits over the long haul? And second, does this, in turn, help fight obesity?