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Part One: Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States 

What is a Food Swamp? Food Swamps are areas with a high density of establishments selling high-calorie fast food and junk food, relative to healthier food options. 

How to calculate a traditional Food Swamp:

Traditional Retail Food Environment Index:  Fast Food/Limited Service Establishment + Convenience Stores

Grocery Stores/Supermarkets

Food Swamps > Food Deserts:

According to a study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Food Swamps are separate phenomena from Food Deserts and are more highly correlated with adult obesity rates.

The problem is that Food Deserts, i.e., areas lacking healthy food options like grocery stores, strongly correlate with adult obesity rates.

Implications for Zoning as an Obesity Prevention Strategy

Policies limiting the availability or affordability of unhealthy foods may have more impact on obesity than those designed to promote access to healthy food options.

However, the systems approach to obesity prevention has revealed that restricting unhealthy food items without introducing alternative healthy food stores potentially leads to higher rates of food insecurity in these communities.

Ready to tackle health disparities and promote healthier communities? Request a demo today and discover how Spatially Health’s innovative solutions can help you navigate the complexities of food swamps, food deserts, and obesity prevention strategies. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to create lasting impact. Contact us now!

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