Just because the food is there, doesn't mean they all can afford it.
Study Questions Link Between Food Deserts and Obesity
As I have written, the bad stuff is far more accessible. Also does just eating an apple make for a decent dinner for most people? It may be a snack in a pinch, but I found myself in the grocery store with 7 bucks to spend playing "What do I eat?" In my case, I bought some dairy free Amy's health food enchiladas, but it's getting harder and more expensive to assemble tasty healthy meals out there. You can't just tell the poor people go eat a few bites of some iceberg lettuce for lunch and call it a day. I think it is the assembling of meals part people are missing out on. I do things like cut up an entire green pepper and eat it for snacks, but do not consider those things meals. Cooking takes a lot of organization and focus, and we live in a society that doesn't seem to help with either. Sometimes just the energy I have to commit to meal planning seems insane, and I do not have to worry about a job or a passel of kids to take care of after working a long 12 hour day.
Then there is the money issue. The fruits and vegetables are FAR more expensive. Towards the end of the month when the money runs low, and the fridge is empty in these households, they aren't buying a 4 dollar pint of strawberries, or buying 12 dollars of produce to assemble a salad, they are going for the 2 dollar box of chicken patties or the 1 dollar value menu at McDonalds.
This person commenting on the article got it right:
I think anyone who is familiar with the peculiarities of life in the lower socio-economic rungs of the U.S. know very well why even the best-stocked grocery stores aren't enough to rectify the obesity and nutritional crisis affecting poorer population groups. Produce and fresh foods require cooking, and cooking requires, among other things: a working gas stove, clean pots and pans, a working knowledge of food preparation, plates, and economic/time incentive (a quick, large and cheap meal being consumed and finished by multiple family members at once is ideal.) These things don't sound like barriers to most readers of the NYT but they are for many, many working Americans. For families with parents on an erratic schedule and kids staying with relatives, even the time commitment it takes to prepare food is prohibitive enough to dissuade most of the working class. The last thing you want to do when you come home at 9 PM is to drive to the grocery store and prep something from scratch, and with the aggressive omnipresence of cheap fast food places and cheap sodium-drenched frozen meals, why would you? I love to cook, know how to do it well, and even as an educated 20something with a white collar job and no kids (although my upbringing was decidedly less comfortable) I am still learning how to plan out my weeks and maintain my discipline so I don't throw out produce or fall to the convenience of eating out.