Living close to a supermarket appears to be a key factor in the success of interventions to help obese children eat better and gain weight.
This is according to a study presented Saturday, May 3, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Urban neighborhoods and rural towns without access to fresh, healthy and affordable food are known as food deserts. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, food deserts sometimes have only fast-food restaurants and convenience stores.
Few studies have looked at whether living farther from a large supermarket affects the success of interventions to improve eating habits and reduce weight.
Results showed that children in the intervention groups living closer to a supermarket were able to increase their fruit and vegetable intake more than those living farther away. Those living farther away from a supermarket in the intervention groups had a larger increase in body mass index as well.
Distance from a supermarket did not affect the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed.
"As our nation strives to improve the health of our children, we must look to children's neighborhoods and provide easier, healthier choices for families," said lead author Lauren G. Fiechtner, MD, fellow in the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition and Health Services at Boston Children's Hospital and research fellow in the Division of General Academic Pediatrics, MassGeneral Hospital for Children.