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Diabetics Face Fewer Healthy Food Choices in Some Urban Areas

Diabetics in East Harlem have a much tougher time finding healthy foods at their local stores than diabetics in New York’s Upper East side. According to researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine who conducted the study, this problem is likely present in cities across the country. The study, “Barriers to Buying Healthy Foods for People With Diabetes: Evidence of Environmental Disparities,” by Carol R. Horowitz, MD, MPH, Kathryn A. Colson, MPH, Paul L. Hebert, PhD and Kristie Lancaster, PhD, was published in the September 2004 issue of American Journal of Public Health.

Carol Horowitz, MD, assistant professor of Health Policy and Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and her colleagues compared 173 East Harlem and 151 Upper East Side grocery stores. The Harlem stores were much less likely to stock healthy food choices such as whole-grain breads and diet soda. The researchers surveyed five specific foods recommended for diabetics: diet soda, one percent fat or fat-free milk, high-fiber and/or low-carbohydrate bread, fresh fruits and fresh green vegetables or tomatoes. Less than 20 percent of East Harlem grocery stores stocked the recommended list of five diabetes-friendly foods, compared with 58 percent of the Upper East Side stores. East Harlem is a racially and ethically mixed neighborhood with a large percentage of low-income households, while residents of the Upper East Side of New York City are mostly white and affluent.

The abstract can be read at no charge by visiting: http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/94/9/1549. To read the article online, visit: http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/full/94/9/1549. (Please note that there is a charge for nonsubscribers to have access to the paper’s full text.)

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