Washington: Adults prefer to buy more of sugar-sweetened beverages and nutrient-poor discretionary foods from supermarkets and grocery stores, according to a study.
The new findings challenge the food desert hypothesis, which posits that a lack of access to supermarkets and grocery stores reduces chances of obesity by restricting people’s access to healthy foods only.
Sugar-sweetened beverages add an average 213 calories per day to the diet, while discretionary foods add an average of 439 calories per day, and the largest portion of those products comes from supermarket shelves, the researchers found.
The study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at data collected from 4,204 adults who reported their daily food intake in two, nonconsecutive 24-hour periods.
The analysis found that nearly half (46.3 per cent) of adults consume sugar-sweetened beverages and 88.8 per cent eat discretionary foods such as cookies, pastries, ice cream, cakes, popcorn and candy on any given day.
“More than half of the sugar-sweetened beverages and two-thirds of discretionary foods are purchased in supermarkets and grocery stores. Adding fruit and vegetables improves the diet but from the standpoint of obesity prevention, it is only helpful if people replace junk food with healthy food,” said Ruopeng An, Professor at the University of Illinois.