As part of our work to show how factors outside of health care impact health, we are launching our “Place Matters” series. In these papers, we will identify successful evidence-based practices for improving health outcomes.
Our second paper in this series, “Place Matters: Food and Health,” examines the connections between food access and health. We also offer a set of solutions for improving health by improving food security and access to healthy food.
Our health is inextricably tied to where we live. Having access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food helps people live healthier lives and improves overall quality of life for Arizonans.
A healthy food environment for Arizona would ensure that all residents live in communities where nutritious and culturally appropriate food options are nearby and available at affordable prices. When neighborhoods have healthy food available within a short distance, community members are better able to purchase, transport, and prepare healthy foods. When healthy food is affordable, it allows families to more easily make healthy meal choices, which leads to better health outcomes.
In Arizona, two main problems – food insecurity and communities with inadequate food retail options- contribute to lack of food access. More than 1 in 10 Arizonans is food insecure, meaning they lack constant, dependable access to enough food for healthy living. In addition, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that many of the communities facing food insecurity are in areas that lack easy access to grocery stores, farmers markets, and other places they might be able to purchase healthy food.
To read the entire report, download “Place Matters: Access to Food and Health” here.