A team of researchers, including an Indian-origin scientist, has revealed in a new study that people who live close to grocery stores may make healthier food choices.
A study of Instagram posts revealed that food posted — and eaten —by people in “food deserts” are five to 17 per cent higher in fat, cholesterol and sugars compared to those shared in “non-food deserts” areas.
The researchers used a term “food deserts” to describe communities with limited access to grocery stores. “The United States Department of Agriculture identifies food deserts based on the availability of fresh food,” said lead author Munmun De Choudhury from Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing.
“Instagram literally gives us a picture of what people are actually eating in these communities, allowing us to study them in a new way,” Choudhury observed. “Fruits and vegetables are the biggest difference,” Choudhury said. The team from the Georgia Institute of Technology has identified three million geo-tagged Instagram posts of food to determine what people are eating. “Forty-eight per cent of posts from people in non-food deserts mention them. It’s only 33 per cent in food deserts,” Choudhury noted.
The amount of calories didn’t differ significantly, but the levels of fats, cholesterol and sugars were much higher in food deserts, especially in the West and Southwest, the study found.”It doesn’t matter where you live,” Choudhury said.