Subsidized Supermarkets May Cut Obesity Risk in Children

TUESDAY, May 10, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Government-subsidized supermarkets may contribute to a small decrease in obesity risk among underserved children living near these supermarkets, according to a study published online May 9 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Pasquale Rummo, Ph.D., from New York University in New York City, and colleagues evaluated the association between the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program and the weight status of 11,356 children and adolescents. Analysis included residentially stable public school students (kindergarten through 12th grade) with objectively measured height and weight data (2009 through 2016) and who lived within 0.50 miles of a FRESH-subsidized supermarket and 43,372 control students.

The researchers found that compared to control students, there was a significant decrease in body mass index z score among students who resided within 0.50 miles of a FRESH supermarket in the three- to 12-month follow-up period (difference-in-differences, −0.04). The finding was consistent for students living near either a new (difference-in-differences, −0.07) or renovated (difference-in-differences, −0.03) store. There was also a statistically significant decrease in the likelihood of obesity (difference-in-differences, −0.01).

“Government-subsidized supermarkets may contribute to a small decrease in obesity risk among children residing near those supermarkets, if part of a comprehensive policy approach,” the authors write.

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