Healthy Stores, Healthy Communities: The Public Health Effects of Buying Food in Stores
Dr. Catherine L. Mah was only 11 years old when she wrote a letter to the editor about the debate over the northern cod fishery and its impact on Canadians. Today, as a scientist, she is still focused on the importance of food and its role in public policy and population health.
Poor diet is the leading preventable risk factor for death and disability globally. But growing inequities in our societies, economies and communities means not everyone has the same access to a healthy diet. As Canada Research Chair in Promoting Healthy Populations, Mah is studying the complex determinants of where, how and why we buy food, and how this affects public health.
Mah’s aim is to help us design solutions to support healthy livelihoods in the food sector and healthy diets for populations. Her work has a special focus on Atlantic Canada, where she and her research team are gathering inspiration and evidence from the practical and Ingenious ways in which local residents, businesses, public health practitioners, community organizations and civic leaders address food access issues. Mah and her team are especially interested in the everyday trade-offs that grocery retailers and residents make in rural and remote communities.
Grocery stores are at the convergence of individual choices and the economic and policy decisions we make about our food systems. Mah believes we can make new choices—ones that work for us and support healthy eating for all.