In 2015, Minneapolis became the first city in the U.S. to require food stores — such as food-gas marts and convenience stores — to stock certain types and quantities of healthy foods.
A new study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health evaluated the effectiveness of the policy and found stores have increased the availability of healthy foods offered over the past five years. However, researchers suggest these gains may not be due to the ordinance, but rather other factors instead. The study was recently published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
The researchers inspected the healthy food offerings in local stores in Minneapolis and compared them to neighboring St. Paul. They evaluated healthy food selection based on availability, price, quality, product placement and other measures. They also interviewed customers about their purchasing choices and the foods they currently have at home.
“Healthy options are increasing in corner stores, convenience stores and other limited assortment food retailers,” said study lead author and professor, Dr. Melissa Laska. “Given that these stores significantly improved healthy food offerings in Minneapolis as well as St. Paul, several scenarios are possible. One, it’s possible that the policy had an effect in Minneapolis and there was a spillover effect to St. Paul. However, it’s also possible that this represents a general trend in the marketplace that’s not attributable to the ordinance.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on October 11