in restaurants, at school, and at work. We purchase food and beverages at fast-food restaurants and from vending machines, in school cafeterias and in sit-down restaurants. Food retailers are an important piece of the puzzle, but they only contribute to one factor affecting choice in the American diet. While it was important to note the multiple aspects of the food environment to explain the how complex the issues are, Popkin reiterated that it was outside the workshop scope to address the increased access to unhealthy food options beyond the community food options setting. There is much potential for improving the situation of food deserts—providing oases of healthy food in areas without it, to extend the analogy—however, Popkin and other presenters warned against oversimplified definitions and solutions from the start of the workshop.
The workshop consisted of sessions discussing how food deserts can be measured (Chapter 2), the challenges and different approaches to identifying effects of the food environment on health (Chapter 3), the potential health consequences of changes in diet (Chapter 4), lessons from current intervention research to mitigate food deserts, and policy and program options that, although promising, have to date been less rigorously evaluated (Chapter 5). Many of the researchers’ work cut across several themes, and the chapters are organized around presentations rather than strictly around themes. After each set of presentations within those sessions, speakers participated in moderated panel discussions with questions from the audience. In the final session of the workshop, various discussion threads mentioned by speakers and participants about additional research needed on the topic of food deserts were tied together by rapporteurs who summarized the current research gaps and future research activities necessary to fully characterize and understand the extent of food deserts and methods to address those issues (Chapter 6). This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions of the workshop.