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Here's What Happens When New Supermarkets Start Appearing in Low Income Neighborhoods

Supermarket in low income neighborhood

Researchers have completed a study on the effects of opening supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods. The surprising results showed that the benefits to low-income families went way beyond health, improving other aspects of their lives, including economic.
How lives are changed

Low-income families often live in areas that are referred to as "food deserts," meaning there are no places to buy fresh produce and other healthy food choices.

But after studying a low-income neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where a new supermarket opened after decades of absence, researchers found that the benefits included so much more than just improving health.

The health benefits included:
  • 10 percent fewer new cases of high cholesterol
  • 7 percent lower cases of arthritis among residents compared with new cases where there is no supermarket available
  • Slower increase in diabetes

The non-health-related benefits included:
  • Household incomes increased
  • Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dropped by 12 percent
Although more research will be done, it does appear from the study that locating supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods not only improves diet and health, but also includes economic improvements by creating more job opportunities, generating tax revenues and increasing customer traffic to support other businesses.

For more details about the study, visit www.rand.org/news/press/2017/12/19.html

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