Georgia Spends Billions on Obesity in a YearPrint This Post
Task Force: All Georgians Must Have Access to Healthy Foods
Georgia spends $2.4 billion each year treating obesity-related diseases, and for the first time in U.S. history, children are expected to live shorter lives than their parents due to the consequences of obesity. The Georgia Supermarket Access Task Force released a report today that identifies 12 ways Georgia can improve access to healthy foods in underserved communities across the state, a critical step in reducing the state’s obesity crisis.
The report, Stimulating Supermarket Development in Georgia, is the result of a yearlong study where the Task Force—a diverse group of local leaders from the public, private and civic sectors—identified barriers to supermarkets and other types of healthy food retail development in Georgia’s lower-income, underserved communities. The report offers ways to change the troubling trend of increased obesity rates among Georgia’s adults and children.
“Georgia is in the midst of an epidemic,” said Georgia Family Connection Partnership Executive Director Gaye Smith, co-chair of the Task Force. “Mississippi is the only state with a worse childhood obesity rate than Georgia. Two million Georgians—including half a million children—live in areas where it is difficult to access healthy food.”
People who live in areas without a supermarket suffer from disproportionately high rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related health problems. Increasing fresh, affordable food retail in underserved communities will help address this growing health problem and help the state save money. Providing access to affordable healthy food can also provide an economic stimulus to Georgia communities in desperate need. Research shows that supermarkets and grocery stores help create jobs, revitalize commercial districts, improve nearby housing values and generate additional tax revenue for a community.
“Grocery stores serve as anchors that spark development, create new jobs, and keep dollars local,” said Smith. “We’re committed to working with diverse partners to address the food access issue. Ensuring that families have access to affordable, nutritious food is a key part of a comprehensive effort to improve the health and well-being of all Georgians.”
The Task Force includes members of more than 40 organizations ranging from health-care organizations and government agencies to private foundations and grocery chains.
“The supermarket industry is passionate about supplying a full range of fresh, healthy products to support our most vulnerable citizens in providing balanced diets for their families,” said Kathy Kuzava, president of the Georgia Food Industry Association and convening partner of the Task Force. “We are proud to participate in this effort and to be a part of addressing Georgia’s health challenges. While supermarkets alone will not solve Georgia’s obesity problem, public health experts agree that expanding access to fresh, healthy, and affordable foods is a vital component to the solution.”
Read Food for Every Child: The Need for More Supermarkets in Georgia, which highlights lower-income communities in Georgia that have few supermarkets and high rates of death from diet-related disease.
Read County Health Rankings & Roadmaps: A Healthier Nation, County by County, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in March. This report reinforces relationships between food access, health, and economic development as it highlights the disparity between resources and health across the state.
GaFCP Communications Director