Blog | Monday, March 2, 2009

Urbanites have trouble finding healthy food

The availability of healthy food choices and quality of diet is worse for impoverished urban denizens than suburban residents, according to two studies conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The studies examined healthy food availability and diet quality in the city of Baltimore and its surrounding county.

They found 46% of lower-income neighborhoods had a low availability of healthy foods, items such as fresh fruits and vegetables, skim milk and whole wheat bread as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Geography plays a larger role in dietary health than previously estimated. And, 24% of the black participants lived in neighborhoods with a low availability of healthy food compared with 5% of whites.

The second study examined the availability of healthy foods across 159 neighborhoods and 226 neighborhood stores in Baltimore and the surrounding county. Researchers found that 43% of predominantly black neighborhoods and 46% of lower-income neighborhoods had low availability of healthy foods, compared to 4% and 13%, respectively, in predominantly white and higher-income neighborhoods.

Where you live is a major determinant of your health, and staff at ACP Internist noted that this study could happen in our hometown of Philadelphia and probably get the same result. It could happen in any city, we suspect.