Food Desert, a term that refers to the geographic areas with limited access to fresh and healthy food such as fruit and produce, has growing recognition. These areas tend to be low-income and are centralized around those who do not have easy access to transportation. There are a variety of health effects associated with living in a Food Desert resulting in children predisposed to a variety conditions including developmental problems, due to lack of nutrition. Among these issues lies obesity. As low-income areas are targets for Food Deserts, the residents of these areas tend to claim that the cost of fast food is cheaper than eating healthy, therefore making unhealthy options their only options. The discussion around obesity in the United States is far from novel. But interestingly enough, the “cost factor” clearly points to a healthy lifestyle.

In a research study published by George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services, an in depth analysis was performed measuring the actual cost of being obese or overweight. When considering direct and indirect medical costs, a few consumer costs, and the cost of premature loss of life, an obese woman could be losing over $8,000 every year to maintain her obesity, and an obese man could be losing over $6,500 annually to maintain his obesity. An obese couple could be losing over $14,500 annually, and these numbers don’t account for a variety of other consumer costs that were difficult to generalize and quantify. If these numbers peak your interest, Medifast published an infographic highlighting the findings of this study as well as some interesting facts on consumer related costs and statistics regarding the heavy problem our country faces.

While it is clear that being in an average weight bracket is the optimal lifestyle choice, both for health and financial reasons, integrating this mindset into Food Deserts where healthy options are sparse to begin with is the real challenge.