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CDC: Kids Lack Access to Healthy Food Choices

Study Shows Stores That Sell Healthy Food Aren’t Accessible to Families
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

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

Arizona

12 

Arkansas

California

11 

Colorado

11

Connecticut

Delaware

12 

D.C.

4

Florida

10 

Georgia

Hawaii

14

Idaho

13 

Illinois

Indiana

10 

Iowa

10 

Kansas

10

Kentucky

10 

Louisiana

9

Maine

15 

Maryland

10 

Massachusetts

Michigan

10 

Minnesota

10 

Mississippi

Missouri

10 

Montana

16 

Nebraska

10 

Nevada

11 

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

12 

New York

North Carolina

11 

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

13 

Pennsylvania

11 

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

10 

Texas

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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