Essays

Essays March 2015

The Corner Grocer and the Battle to Beat Obesity

 

The medical costs of obesity are rising rapidly in the United States and are estimated to be one hundred forty‑seven billion dollars ($147,000,000,000) per year. Roughly half of these obesity‑related costs are paid by Medicare and Medicaid, indicating taxpayers bear the majority of the cost for obesity‑related medical care. Obesity‑related health care spending accounts for eight and one‑half percent (8.5%) of Medicare spending, eleven and eight‑tenths percent (11.8%) of Medicaid spending, and twelve and nine‑tenths percent (12.9%) of private payer spending.

Many Americans, particularly those in low‑income neighborhoods, rural areas, and communities of color, live in communities that lack adequate access to full‑service grocery stores. Low‑income areas have more than twice as many convenience stores and four times as many small grocery stores as high‑income areas. Proximity to convenience stores within a neighborhood is associated with higher rates of obesity and diabetes. How is North Carolina harnessing their network of corner stores? Is this a blue print for Canada? 

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