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A Look Inside Food Deserts

If you struggle with finding affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and other healthy foods, the important thing to remember is that you can still take steps to improve your diet.

Food Deserts Explained

Food deserts are areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet.

Are There Food Deserts in the United States?

A review of five high income countries published in a 2009 release of Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD)  suggested that food deserts do exist in the United States. According to a report by the US Department of Agriculture, a small percentage of American consumers are limited in their ability to access affordable, nutritious foods because they live far from a supermarket or large grocery store and do not have easy access to transportation. This can be especially true for those living in urban and low-income communities.

Man's hand holding shopping bag

Some Americans are limited in their ability to access affordable nutritious food because they live far from a supermarket.

How Does Food Access Affect Your Health?

Limited access to affordable, healthier foods is one factor that may make it harder for some Americans to eat a healthy diet and could negatively affect their health.

How to Take Steps to Achieve a Healthy Diet

You can find out if you live in a county with low access to healthy foods by visiting the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Environment Atlas. Local public health departments and other organizations can help you get started.

Food policy councils are groups that convene citizens, business leaders, and other decision makers to assess the state or local food system, and find solutions to improve food access. Find one near you!

Learn more about what communities can do to support healthy food environments with the resources below:

And start making healthy food and beverage choices by checking out these nutrition resources:

  • Page last reviewed: August 21, 2017
  • Page last updated: August 21, 2017
  • Content source:
    • Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), Preventing Chronic Disease
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Division of News and Electronic Media