The NC Alliance for Health recently released poll results that show 70% of North Carolina voters are in support of funding a Healthy Corner Store Initiative to improve access to healthy food. The NC Alliance for Health, “is an independent, statewide coalition advocating for policies that promote wellness and reduce the impact of obesity and tobacco.” Below are some excerpts of the NC Alliance for Health’s announcement. The NC Alliance for Health also issued a news release highlighting the poll results. Copies of the executive summary of the poll and a summary brochure are also available.
In releasing the information, the NC Alliance for Health said:
A statewide survey released today shows that North Carolina registered voters (70 percent) strongly support the creation of a Healthy Corner Store Initiative as a way of tackling the state’s childhood obesity epidemic.
According to this poll, North Carolinians view unhealthy eating and childhood obesity as the most serious problems facing children in the United States, above physical activity, quality of education, and children not spending enough time outdoors. The members and partners of the North Carolina Alliance for Health (NCAH) believe these results clearly demonstrate that it is time to stop talking about the barriers to accessing healthy food and start doing something about it.
In the coming weeks, NCAH and partners will be sharing these strong poll results with appropriate state agencies, the Governor and at the North Carolina General Assembly to inform them about our work to promote a Healthy Corner Store Initiative for North Carolina.
Programs such as a Healthy Corner Store Initiative and Healthy Food Financing improve availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy foods within areas of poor food access. These approaches would not only remove barriers to healthy eating, but also create new business opportunities. If the focus also includes healthy foods grown and/or produced in North Carolina, the state could realize a triple win in terms of health, economic growth and community revitalization.
Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, certain kinds of cancer, obesity and diet-related diseases disproportionately impact communities without access to healthy foods. People living in such communities — known as food deserts — often shop for food at corner stores, which commonly sell highly processed foods that are high in fat and low in nutrients. In fact, youth who live near convenience stores have higher Body Mass Indices (BMIs) and consume more sugary drinks than their peers who live closer to full-service grocery stores. Additionally, one study published in Pediatrics showed that more than 40 percent of elementary school students shopped at a corner store twice daily, often purchasing chips, candy, and soda.
Because youth who live in food deserts often shop for food in corner stores, it is extremely important that these retail outlets offer healthy food options. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative would do just that by providing corner stores with technical assistance and expertise in stocking and selling fresh fruits and vegetables. Decreases in chronic disease and obesity can be linked to increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative has the potential to decrease the percentage of youth that are overweight, obese, or are suffering from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.