First Lady Joins Food Desert Fight

She joins Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to help tackle a nationwide problem.

Posted: 10/21/2011 12:29 PM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama Joins Chicago Mayor in Food Desert Fight

Ever looked around your neighborhood and thought, There is nothing good to eat? Well, you may live in a food desert — an area without access to affordable fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.


First Lady Michelle Obama is joining Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel next week to tackle the issue during a “food desert summit” that will bring together mayors and grocers from around the country to discuss the lack of fresh foods in low-income communities.


Chicago is just one major U.S. city that has come under scrutiny for its large food desert problem, but the issue looms large for its residents. It has been estimated that nearly 633,000 of Chicago's 3 million residents live in neighborhoods without a major supermarket or not within reasonable distance of one. In Detroit, nearly half of the city has been deemed a food desert.


“The link between inequitable access to healthy, affordable food and chronic diseases is evident in every region of the country. Low income and being African-American, Latino, or American Indian increases the likelihood of poor access to good food and the prevalence of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, vice president and chief medical officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield Texas. “Access to healthy, affordable food is a major public health problem and should be considered as important as affordable healthcare,” Sanchez said.


Next week’s summit falls in line with the First Lady's "Let's Move!" campaign to promote health and prevent child obesity.

(Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)