Interactive: Healthy Food Scarcity

Nearly a third of Texans are obese. A lack of access to healthy food options in some areas, particularly poor communities, compounds the problem. Options can often be limited to fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and other inexpensive, unhealthy choices. If a local economy cannot sustain a grocery store in an urban area it's referred to as a food desert.

The rate of obesity is higher among poor people, according to many studies. And because of increased obesity rates, those most likely to benefit from expanded government health care programs are also more likely to have higher costs associated with their care. Average health care spending for obese individuals was 41.6 percent higher than for those with healthy weight in 2006, according to a February 2011 report by the Texas Comptroller. And if health care trends of 2009 continued, according to the report, obesity costs for Texas businesses could reach $32.5 billion annually by 2030.

This map shows the percentage of food retailers that offer healthy options by census tract, as calculated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011. To give a sense of the poverty level in the area, the CDC’s data is combined with estimates from the American Community Survey to show how many households received benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or were below the poverty line but did not receive SNAP benefits in 2010. For more information about hunger and the SNAP in Texas, check out this Tribune interactive.

Click the map to zoom in and get a closer look at urban areas.

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