Do You Live in a 'Food Swamp'? It Could Be Raising Your Heart Risk

February 2, 2023

Americans who live near a "food swamp" may have a higher risk of suffering a stroke, a preliminary study finds.

A number of studies have looked at the health consequences of living in a so-called food desert -- areas with few grocery stores or other options for buying fresh food.

Food swamps are different: The term was coined to describe communities where fast food restaurants, convenience stores and other junk-food purveyors heavily outweigh healthier options like grocery stores and farmers' markets.

The new study looked at whether Americans' stroke risk varies based on how far their county of residence veers into food swamp territory.

It turned out it did: Among nearly 18,000 adults age 50 and older, those living in U.S. counties high on the food swamp scale had a 13% higher risk of suffering a stroke, compared to those in areas with more healthy options.

Dixon Yang, MD

Dr. Dixon Yang

Many factors affect stroke risk, and it is hard to separate the importance of food swamps from those other variables, said lead researcher Dr. Dixon Yang, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City.

In fact, he said, the food swamp issue is intertwined with other factors in those communities. People living there may have lower incomes, little time or places for exercise, or less access to health care, for example.

But food swamps themselves can be a barrier to people living healthy lives. [read more]

Source: U.S. News & World Report