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Most Philly stores primarily sell unhealthy foods, city report finds

The corner stores that populate Philadelphia’s myriad neighborhoods offer residents quick access to eggs, milk and bread. But their aisles often pack in quite a few sodas, candy bars and salty snacks. Finding fresh produce is unlikely.

The vast majority of retail food stores in Philadelphia mostly sell unhealthy foods, according to a report released Wednesday by the city’s health department. 

Although access to healthy food has improved since 2014, thanks to an increased number of supermarkets and produce stores opening in the city, 81 percent of all retail food stores predominantly sell foods high in sugar, salt and/or fat.  

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The Neighborhood Food Report shines a light on the city’s skewed food environment, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.

“Children grow up seeing chips and candy as normal snacks rather than occasional treats,” Farley said in a statement. “And adults who may be trying to eat a healthy diet are constantly seeing the unhealthy snacks they may be trying to avoid.”

The report found that neighborhoods with the highest median incomes have the most stores that offer produce. Likewise, the poorest neighborhoods have the fewest.

Since 2014, Philadelphia has gained an additional 16 supermarkets and 24 produce stores, the report found.

Though the number of Philadelphia residents who lack walkable access to healthy foods dropped by 20 percent between 2014 and 2018, the report found 1 million residents have more than 20 stores with lesser supplies of produce within walking distance of their homes. 

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