‘Food Desert’ Label Often Inaccurate: Lack of a Supermarket Does Not Cause Obesity and Diabetes, but Poverty Might

By Karen Nikos-Rose

Access to healthy food does not always relate to the presence of a nearby supermarket, but instead requires a deeper look at poverty, race and other factors in a community, a UC Davis study suggests.

Lack of a supermarket does not necessarily make a county a “food desert,” argues Catherine Brinkley, who studies food systems and community development.

The study shifts the conversation begun in the 1990s, in which “food deserts” were described as communities that were either sparsely populated or had too many low-income residents to support a supermarket. The past research said this lack of access led to health problems such as obesity and diabetes. The popular policy response then was to leverage public funds to establish a supermarket.

New Type of Insulin-Producing Cell Discovered

Possible new route to regenerating function lost in diabetes

In people with type I diabetes, insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas die and are not replaced. Without these cells, the body loses the ability to control blood glucose. Researchers at the University of California, Davis have now discovered a possible new route to regenerating beta cells, giving insight into the basic mechanisms behind healthy metabolism and diabetes. Eventually, such research could lead to better treatment or cures for diabetes.

UC Davis engineer works on Google’s smart contact lens for diabetics

Google recently announced that its Google[x] lab is working on a novel contact lens that could help people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar, by measuring glucose levels in tears.

Stephen O’Driscoll, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis’ College of Engineering, is contributing to the project during a leave of absence at Google[x].

This contact lens can help diabetics monitor their blood glucose. (Google image).

This contact lens can help diabetics monitor their blood glucose. (Google image).

“We have heard some pretty moving reactions to the publicity from those suffering with diabetes and from their loved ones,” O’Driscoll wrote in an email. “There are still some questions to answer and work to do but such feedback is a big motivation to get this completed.”