ChangeLab Solutions thinks it’s important to take a comprehensive approach to improving retail environments. When public health practitioners in different agencies and issue areas — such as tobacco control, nutrition, and prevention of excessive alcohol use — work together, they can help create stores where it’s easier to make healthier choices.
Stores can have a significant impact on community health. In many places, residents lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables but can find cheap tobacco and alcohol all too easily. This imbalance has serious health consequences. In the United States, tobacco use, poor nutrition, and excessive alcohol use are among the leading causes of preventable deadly illness, including cancer, heart disease, and chronic lower respiratory disease. Communities of color and low-income areas often have the fewest healthy stores and bear the greatest burden of these illnesses.
Stores that make the healthy choice the easy choice — by stocking nutritious items and deemphasizing tobacco and junk food, for instance — can help improve community health. Strategies include providing and promoting affordable fruits and vegetables, water, and other nutritious products. Tobacco, sugary drinks, unhealthy food, and alcohol are less visible or perhaps even not sold at all.
We’ve created tools to help you figure out what healthy stores might look like in your community and to support your efforts to make them a reality.