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NEWS RELEASE

Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 29, 2004

Contact: Marisa Ramirez
713.743.8152 (office)
mrcannon@uh.edu

OBESITY GETS YOU WHERE YOU LIVE, UH STUDY FINDS
Lack of Fresh Produce in Lower-Income Neighborhoods
Contributes to Weight, Health Problems

HOUSTON, Nov. 29, 2004—Obesity is likely to affect individuals in low-income areas where fresh fruits and vegetables may not be as plentiful, according to a new University of Houston study.

The finding is suggested in a study on the availability and quality of produce in high-income versus low-income urban neighborhoods.

“Obesity disproportionately burdens low-income, ethnic minority populations,” said Rebecca E. Lee, assistant professor of health and human performance and lead researcher on the study. “The results suggest that these populations have less access to healthy foods.”

The study found that people living in low-income, urban neighborhoods had access to at least one convenience store and a liquor store that sold convenience foods, but very few supermarkets or grocery stores. The produce that was available to these neighborhoods included few fresh fruits and hardly any vegetables. In contrast, the high-income urban neighborhoods studied were more likely to have access to supermarkets and grocery stores and the quality and quantity of produce available was higher than those found in low-income neighborhoods.

The study was presented in a Las Vegas conference for the North American Association for the Study of Obesity and the American Diabetes Association.

Lee's research incorporates environmental and individual determinants of physical activity, dietary habits and obesity prevention in ethnic minority and underserved populations. Her work combines theory and techniques drawn from behavioral medicine, community psychology, geography, policy science, social ecology and social marketing.

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The UH College of Education works to shape and staff educational systems that are responsive to our rapidly changing society. The college prepares teachers, counselors, psychologists, school and higher education administrators and professionals for a variety of educational settings, including work in social agencies, medical facilities, businesses, and government posts. The college offers students both a broad range of innovative programs and the opportunity to learn about recent developments in educational practice and thought.

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The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

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