Food Deserts and Obesity: Possible Solutions

Food Deserts and Obesity: Possible Solutions

Food insecurity has become a big problem in America. It is the wealthiest nation in the world, and yet there are still people with no access to healthy food. You might think that lack of access would create an issue of people becoming underweight, but food deserts and obesity are closely connected.

Experts define food desert as an area where residents do not have access to fresh produce within a 10-mile radius. This forces people to do their “grocery shopping” at convenience stores that do not carry items like fresh fruits and vegetables. They have to resort mostly to canned and instant food, which typically is not very healthy. Without a supermarket nearby, people cannot get the nutritious produce they need.

Another important reason as to why obesity is a problem within food deserts is because of fast food restaurants. Without a local grocer to turn to, the allure of a cheap fast food meal is too much to pass up for low-income families. This is a major contributor to becoming dangerously overweight.

food desert map

Why Access is Important

People do not choose to live in food deserts. Most residents have low incomes and may already be relying on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and food stamps. 10 miles may not seem like a far distance for someone to travel to get to a supermarket, but it is if you do not have a means to get there. In low-income neighborhoods where people cannot afford cars and where there might not be public transportation, their only choice is what’s available in their area.

It’s difficult for families to eat healthy when their only means of buying food comes from dollar stores and other cheap places. People in poor neighborhoods are already disadvantaged in so many ways. They get the short end when it comes to schools, infrastructure, transportation, and recreation. Something as essential as healthy food should be a priority, but the economy of their locale does not allow for it.

SNAP logo


There are a few viable options to solve (or at least combat) the issue of food access. In order to help people who are stuck in food deserts, people in better places need to step up. Privileged people and people in power need to use their position to assist people below them.


There are non-profit organizations that do a lot for those who need food. Canned food drives are common in many neighborhoods. This is a good start, but people in food deserts are more in need of fresh produce. This is why government-funded, non-profit markets are becoming popular. These provide discounts for customers with low incomes.

Organizations that dedicate themselves to providing food for the hungry do great work. Many things go into obtaining and distributing food to people in need. Gathering donations takes time. Storing the goods may be difficult depending on what they are. Offering food to people can become a task on its own if recipients cannot leave their homes. All of these aspects make it hard to provide fresh food due to time constraints. These organizations are great, but optimizing the process is necessary.


Incentives for Rising Business

States need to encourage businesses to build stores in food deserts. From a business perspective, it doesn’t look appealing to launch a new location in a poor area. This is how lack of access to produce begins to form. They need incentives to make the venture worthwhile.

Supermarkets can receive grants and easily apply for loans if they plan on opening in a food desert. With government funding, businesses can open store and profit, too. This will also create jobs for communities and improve their economies.

fruits and vegetables

Online Shopping

People living in food deserts may be able to transcend their location through online shopping. If they have the means to, having food delivered is a great way to get groceries. You can order any type of food online, which opens up a lot of possibilities.

Selling groceries online is a way to provide access to healthy food for everyone. If you run an online business that is cost-effective, then you can offer products at an affordable rate. This would help people to feed their families with the nutritious produce they need.

Dropshipping presents a good opportunity to offer cheap and healthy food online. You can decide exactly what you want to sell without keeping the inventory yourself. With the right supplier, you can add to the ever-growing options for people to buy healthy food at reasonable prices.

Learn more about selling food online.