retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports that new studies throws doubt on the contention by many policy makers and health advocates that so-called “urban deserts” are “bereft of fresh fruits and vegetables.”

According to the story, two new studies say that “such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too. And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents.”

And, the story goes on: “Some experts say these new findings raise questions about the effectiveness of efforts to combat the obesity epidemic simply by improving access to healthy foods. Despite campaigns to get Americans to exercise more and eat healthier foods, obesity rates have not budged over the past decade, according to recently released federal data.”
KC's View:
Huh?

Does this mean there are no food deserts?

I am gobsmacked. I suspect I am not the only one.

You can read the entire Times piece here.

I’m not an expert in such things, but the ways in which the studies were conducted seem legitimate enough.

That said, some of the numbers don’t make sense.

Such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too.

Really? I’ll buy fast food restaurants and convenience stores, but supermarkets? It always has been a matter of faith that it is harder to make money in low-income neighborhoods for a variety of reasons, and therefore such retailers did not want to go there.

Maybe the definition of supermarket is more elastic than I think. Maybe these supermarkets are selling fresh foods at such high cost and low quality that these offerings are almost irrelevant. (The Times piece notes that the studies concede that they do not look at products sold and prices charged. Both of which are important.)