A new report from the University of Ilinois at Chicago suggests that cutting rices on fruits & vegetables could bring down obesity rates across the United States...
According to the CDC, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Bridging the Gap program has begun studying the effect of environmental factors on youth physical activity, diet, and weight outcomes. Much of this research has focused on access to food, as reflected by availability and price.
We have known from other work that researchers have documented disparities in access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity; healthier food outlets and opportunities for physical activity are relatively less available in communities with lower income and larger proportions of racial/ethnic minority populations.
More recently, additional reports also imply that "healthier environments" are associated with more fruit and vegetable consumption, more physical activity, lower body mass index, and reduced likelihood of obesity among youth.
Researchers used 1997-2003 data on 8th- and 10th-grade students to analyze the effect of prices on frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption, BMI, and an indicator for obesity. They found that lower prices for fruits and vegetables were associated with more fruit and vegetable consumption, while lower prices for fast foods were associated with less fruit and vegetable consumption. In addition, they found that lower fruit and vegetable prices were associated with lower BMI, and lower fast-food prices were associated with higher BMI. Finally, they found that lower fast-food prices were also associated with an increased likelihood of obesity.
Likewise, a 2006 study found that raising the price of "healthy" or "unhealthy" foods resulted in decreased purchases of those foods, and that the substitution of "healthier" for "unhealthy" food is related to available money.
According to the CDC, "as recognition of the obesity epidemic has increased, researchers, policy makers, and public health professionals have focused more attention on the role of environmental factors as determinants of healthy and unhealthy eating, physical activity and inactivity, and weight outcomes." The studies referenced and linked here highlight some of these recent findings.
Interesting data on some of the sociological components of weight-related issues...