Skip to content Skip to navigation

Priya Fielding-Singh’s op-ed on poverty and diet in the Los Angeles Times

Children with a cart full of junk food

Why do poor Americans eat so unhealthfully? Because junk food is the only indulgence they can afford

The verdict is in: Food deserts don't drive nutritional disparities in the United States the way we thought. Over the past decade, study after study has shown that differences in access to healthy food can't fully explain why wealthy Americans consume a healthier diet than poor Americans.

If food deserts aren't to blame, then what is?

I've spent the better part of a decade working to answer this question. I interviewed 73 California families — more than 150 parents and kids — and spent more than 100 hours observing their daily dietary habits, tagging along to grocery stores and drive-through windows. My research suggests that families' socioeconomic status affected not just their access to healthy food, but something even more fundamental: the meaning of food.

Most of the parents I interviewed — poor and affluent — wanted their kids to eat nutritious food and believed in the importance of a healthy diet.

Continue reading the op-ed in the Los Angeles Times