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Food Deserts: Myth or Reality?
Annual Review of Resource Economics  (IF5.184),  Pub Date : 2021-10-05, DOI: 10.1146/annurev-resource-101620-080307
Chen Zhen

In 2010, the White House announced the goal of eradicating food deserts—low-income neighborhoods without nearby supermarkets—in seven years. The efficacy of this initiative is premised on the presumption, mostly untested in 2010, that food deserts significantly contribute to health disparities in low-resourced communities. We synthesize the post-2010 line of research that seeks to establish causality in the relationship between food access and nutrition/health. All things considered, there is so far little evidence that food deserts have a causal effect of meaningful magnitude on health and nutrition disparities. The causes of diet quality disparity lie more on the side of food demand than on supply. Therefore, from the public health perspective, policies that lower the relative price of healthy food or change the “deep parameters” of preferences in favor of healthy food would be more appealing than eliminating food deserts.