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Invited Commentary
July 11, 2011

Food Deserts or Food Swamps?Comment on “Fast Food Restaurants and Food Stores”

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, California (Drs Fielding and Simon); Departments of Health Services (Dr Fielding) and Epidemiology (Dr Simon), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health; and Department of Pediatrics, UCLA School of Medicine (Dr Fielding).

Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(13):1171-1172. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.279

Though what we eat is usually considered a lifestyle choice, research suggests that both the types and amount of food (and beverages) we consume are influenced to a surprisingly large degree by environmental cues and that our food choices are made without much forethought.1 At the community level, the food environment also likely exerts a strong influence on food purchasing and consumption patterns.2 Efforts to improve nutrition and stem the tide of the obesity epidemic have increasingly focused on policy approaches to improve community food environments—efforts, for example, to attract supermarkets where none exist and help smaller markets to offer fresh produce. Another strategy has been to reduce, or at least not increase, the density of fast food restaurants and convenience stores, particularly in food-poor neighborhoods, often referred to as food deserts.

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