Kids buy a lot of junk food at bodegas. No big surprise there. This new study from Temple University (8-page PDF), released yesterday by the American Academy of Pediatrics, tells us just how much and what kind. Combined with more qualitative and local assessments like MIT’s food mapping project in the North End, we’ve got evidence we need to start changing the system. And persuading children, parents, or even bodega owners to change their evil ways is not going to do it. I learned in college that that’s called “blaming the victim.” And as my friend Dean Robinson at UMass says, “Put down the fried chicken and go run a lap” is not rational public health policy.
What then? Let’s work on making fresh and local food more affordable, and easier for retailers to access. Let’s stop marketing nasty stuff to kids in stores, on TV, and in schools. Let’s reduce health care spending with a bold upfront investment in prevention of chronic diseases associated with obesity.
Here’s what 182 children, aged 5-12, in low-income Philadelphia schools picked up at the corner store: