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    Study Shows Stores That Sell Healthy Food Aren’t Accessible to Families

    April 26, 2011 -- Limited access to healthy foods in most U.S. states may be making it more difficult to instill healthy eating habits in children and may be fueling the childhood obesity epidemic.

    A new CDC report shows 32 states and the District of Columbia scored at or below the national average for the Modified Retail Food Environment Index, an indicator of access to retailers that sell healthy foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables.

    Based on a range from zero (no food retailers that typically sell healthy food) to 100 (only food retailers that sell healthy food), the national average score was 10. The highest-scoring states were Montana and Maine, with scores of 16 and 15, respectively. Rhode Island and the District of Columbia ranked at the bottom of the index with scores of 5 and 4, respectively.

    “To feed their children healthy food at home, parents must have ready access to stores that sell affordable, healthy food,” says William Dietz, MD, PhD, director of CDC's division of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity, in a news release.

    Availability of Healthy Food: State-by-State Scores

    The scores for all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the Modified Retail Food Environment Index are:

    Modified Retail Food Environment Index Score

    U.S. National Average

    10

    Alabama

    10

    Alaska

    6

    Arizona

    12

    Arkansas

    9

    California

    11

    Colorado

    11

    Connecticut

    6

    Delaware

    12

    D.C.

    4

    Florida

    10

    Georgia

    8

    Hawaii

    14

    Idaho

    13

    Illinois

    8

    Indiana

    10

    Iowa

    10

    Kansas

    10

    Kentucky

    10

    Louisiana

    9

    Maine

    15

    Maryland

    10

    Massachusetts

    7

    Michigan

    10

    Minnesota

    10

    Mississippi

    8

    Missouri

    10

    Montana

    16

    Nebraska

    10

    Nevada

    11

    New Hampshire

    9

    New Jersey

    8

    New Mexico

    12

    New York

    8

    North Carolina

    11

    North Dakota

    8

    Ohio

    9

    Oklahoma

    6

    Oregon

    13

    Pennsylvania

    11

    Rhode Island

    5

    South Carolina

    9

    South Dakota

    8

    Tennessee

    10

    Texas

    7

    Utah

    13

    Vermont

    13

    Virginia

    11

    Washington

    12

    West Virginia

    13

    Wisconsin

    11

    Wyoming

    10

    Food Environment Unhealthy for Many

    The index is a key component of the CDC's 2011 Children's Food Environment State Indicator Report. Researchers say lack of access to supermarkets and other venues where healthy foods are available for sale have been associated with a lower quality diet and increased risk of obesity.

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