Monday, May 7, 2012

Access or Limits

As promised, here is an excerpt from my current (working) research interest statement where I am discussing my focus on policy and the environment (regarding informed and health promoting nutrition).

      More proximately, our efforts must mirror those of the “manufacturers” who provide the foods linked to over consumption and adverse health.  These foods are nutrient poor, calorically dense, highly processed, high in sugar, high in saturated fat and ubiquitous.  The companies behind them did not just plop them down in existing establishments and walk away.  The foods were and continue to be cheap, convenient (wherever you are, whenever you want it), heavily promoted and formulated to appeal to taste buds and perhaps neurological reward centers.  The foods have become iconic.
 If we expect consumers to choose healthier foods we must use similar tactics.
      Thus, recommendation 1 MUST be implemented in unison with the second which specifically notes the need to “limit access to less healthy foods.”   The politically unfavorable use of pricing and organizational bans is most effective.  For example, taxing sugar sweetened beverages as proposed by the Rudd Center and others, or excluding their purchase with food supplement programs (as NYC suggests) and removing them from school and work sites as has been done in Boston. The counter to this type of intervention has been that people will just consume these “forbidden” foods at home.  This is not a research finding but a supposition.  In fact, many people who are concerned with their weight do not keep such items at home.  These same individuals cannot avoid their workplaces or schools.  In truth, the less opportunity for poor eating the less it will occur.  Access does not equal consumption but lack of access certainly prevents it.

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