Tamar Haspel’s Aug. 29 Food column, “A link between food deserts and obesity seems logical. But there’s none .,” did a great disservice to readers by focusing on “food deserts” (lack of proximity to food) rather than food insecurity (lack of access to food because of a range of issues, including poverty). There is a robust body of evidence demonstrating the connection between food insecurity and diabetes, which is why health professionals nationwide have begun to integrate food-insecurity questions into their clinical practices.
Let’s also be clear: No expert who has thought seriously about access to food and diet-related chronic conditions (such as obesity and diabetes) considers food deserts to be the only causal factor in addressing the issue. Fortunately, crosscutting efforts are underway in the District and in cities across the country — including school-based food education, clinical investment in healthy food access as prevention, and long-overdue attention to physical grocery access.
Rather than focusing her article on a straw-man argument, readers would have been better served by a serious and nuanced look at this complex issue.
Lauren Shweder Biel, Washington
The writer is executive director of DC Greens.