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June 24, 2009

Economic Conditions and Obesity

JAMA. 2009;301(24):2546-2547. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.871

To the Editor: Drs Ludwig and Pollack1 focused on the major current public health challenge, obesity, and highlighted potential economic approaches to address the problem. There are 2 additional suggestions to consider with the intent of improving diet quality of the US population.

First, provide tax incentives to encourage large supermarkets to locate in economically disadvantaged areas. This would improve year-round access and affordability to foods consistent with public health guidelines for achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. Second, bring back basic food-preparation skill instruction to our schools, a version of “hunting and gathering” in the 21st century. This would empower children to have the confidence to purchase and prepare food at home and avoid fostering dependence on quick-serve establishments that are too often bereft in food choices consistent with those advocated in the classroom.

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