More than 23 million Americans live in low-income neighborhoods more than a mile from any supermarket, so-called "food deserts" where chips and soda are easier to find than apples or oranges. A generation of public policy has linked such limited access to healthy food to a host of health problems, such as obesity and diabetes.
The federal government has spent half a billion dollars in recent years to entice markets and grocery stores into those food deserts. But the evidence that they improve diets or health outcomes was thin before a years-long study of the impact one new supermarket had on one urban food-desert neighborhood.
The supermarket changed that neighborhood for the better, researchers at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corp. found. But not quite the way anyone expected.
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