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May 27, 2015

Policy Snapshot Examines Impacts of Living in Food Deserts

June 2015 Policy Snapshot - Food Deserts and Food Swamps: A PrimerFor too many people, access to healthy and affordable food options is limited, at best, or not an option at all. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food deserts are defined as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.” Rather than having grocery stores in these communities, there may be no food access or limited access to healthy, affordable food options.

Areas that have an overabundance of fast food and other unhealthy food options compared to healthy food options are referred to as “food swamps.” Paradoxically, an area can be considered both a food desert and a food swamp.

Even for those with plentiful access to healthy foods, we can all relate to the lack of time sometimes available for meal planning and cooking and the allure of fast, cheap, unhealthy food options. For those living in food deserts and/or food swamps these problems are amplified by the low availability and high cost of healthy food options. The Center for Health Affairs' June 2015 Policy Snapshot, Food Deserts and Food Swamps: A Primer, explores the health impacts of living in food deserts and/or food swamps and solutions to address these problems.

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