Physical, Consumer, and Social Aspects of Measuring the Food Environment Among Diverse Low-Income Populations

Center for Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21205-2179, USA.
American journal of preventive medicine (Impact Factor: 4.28). 04/2009; 36(4 Suppl):S161-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.01.007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases are directly related to the food environment. We describe how to better assess the food environment in specific ethnic minority settings for designing and implementing interventions, based on a review of our previous work on the food environment in American Indian reservations, Canadian First Nations reserves, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and inner-city Baltimore. The types of food stores available within each setting and the range of healthy foods available varied greatly across these geographic regions. In all settings, proximity to food stores/supermarkets, cost, and limited availability of healthful foods were common features, which limited access to health-promoting food options. Features specific to each population should be considered in an assessment of the food environment, including physical (e.g., openness of stores, mix of types of food sources); consumer (e.g., adequacy of the food supply, seasonal factors); and social (e.g., inter-household food sharing, perceptions of food quality, language differences) aspects. The food environments common in low-income ethnic subpopulations require special focus and consideration due to the vulnerability of the populations and to specific and unique aspects of each setting.

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    • "Globalization, free trade, economic growth and urbanization are macro-level factors that increased utilization of new food production technologies, and influenced the types of foods available in neighborhoods worldwide (Monteiro, Levy, Claro, de Castro, & Cannon, 2011; Monteiro, Moubarac, Cannon, Ng, & Popkin, 2013; Pérez-Cueto et al., 2010; Townshend & Lake, 2009). Although the availability of healthy foods is a significant influence on food choice (Hawkes, 2009; Larson & Story, 2009; Murakami, Sasaki, Takahashi, & Uenishi, 2009; Walker, Block, & Kawachi, 2012), the consumer decisions are also motivated by other factors, including: perceived barriers to obtaining healthy food (such as distance to food sources), quality of food sold, prices, and store attributes such as store size, food safety, cleanliness, customer service, and brands sold (Blitstein, Snider, & Evans, 2012; Gittelsohn & Sharma, 2009; Krukowski, McSweeney, Sparks, & West, 2012; Larson & Story, 2009; Macdonald, Ellaway, Ball, & Macintyre, 2011; Morland & Evenson, 2009; Thornton, Pearce, Macdonald, Lamb, & Ellaway, 2012; Walker et al., 2012). These factors may interact with community ☆ Acknowledgements: The authors wish to thank all the families who participated in the study and the interviewers for their cooperation in collecting the data. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: This cross-sectional study examined the association between local food environment and consumers' acquisition of ultra-processed food. Methods: Households were randomly selected from 36 census tracts in Santos City, Brazil. Mothers, of varying economic status, who had children ages 10 or younger (n = 538) were interviewed concerning: their household food acquisition of 31 groups of food and beverages, perceptions of local food environment, food sources destinations, means of transportation used, and socioeconomic status. Food acquisition patterns were classified based on the degree of industrial food processing. Logistic regression models were fitted to assess the association between consumer behaviors and acquisition patterns. Results: The large variety of fresh produce available in supermarkets was significantly related to lower odds of ultra-processed food purchases. After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, higher odds for minimally-processed food acquisition were associated with: frequent use of specialized markets to purchase fruits and vegetables (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.01-2.34), the habit of walking to buy food (OR 1.58, 95% CI 1.08-2.30), and perceived availability of fresh produce in participants' neighborhood (OR 1.58, 95% CI 1.08-2.30). Acquisition of ultra-processed food was positively associated with the use of taxis as principal means of transportation to food sources (OR 2.35, 95% CI 1.08-5.13), and negatively associated with perceived availability of a variety of fruits and vegetables in the neighborhood (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.37-0.88). Conclusion: The results suggest that interventions aiming to promote acquisition of less processed food in settings similar to Santos, may be most effective if they focus on increasing the number of specialized fresh food markets in local neighborhood areas, improve residents' awareness of these markets' availability, and provide appropriate transportation.
    Appetite 01/2015; 87. DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2014.12.229 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    • "Since the beginning of the 1970s, UA projects have been developed " as a way to counteract inflation, civic unrest, abandoned properties, and to satisfy new environmental ethics and open space needs " (Lawson, 2004, p. 163). As a subversive movement, the practice of UA generally increases social capital, civic involvement, community efficacy, and empowerment (Armstrong, 2000; Ferris, Norman, & Sempik, 2001; Gittelsohn & Sharma, 2009; Teig et al., 2009). In addition, studies have identified public participation as a crucial component of the food security planning process (Jacobsen, "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper examines the role of urban agriculture (UA) projects in relieving food insecurity in lowerincome neighborhoods of post-industrial U.S. cities, using Philadelphia as a case study. Based on food justice literature and mixed-methods such as GIS, survey, field observations, and interviews, we discuss how neighborhoods, nearby residents, and the local food economy interact with UA projects. Our findings suggest that, although UA projects occupy a vital place in the fight against community food insecurity in disadvantaged inner-city neighborhoods, there are debates and concerns associated with the movement. These concerns include geographic, economic, and informational accessibility of UA projects; social exclusion in the movement; spatial mismatch between UA participants and neighborhood socioeconomic and racial profiles; distribution of fresh produce to populations under poverty and hunger; and UA’s economic contributions in underprivileged neighborhoods. Finally, we outline future research directions that are significant to understanding the practice of UA.
    11/2012; 3(1):143-160. DOI:10.5304/jafscd.2012.031.013
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    • "Horgen and Brownell (2002) suggest that price decreases may be more powerful than health messages in increasing consumption of healthy foods. Store-based trials in low-income populations have shown that perceived and actual low costs of healthy foods encourage customers to purchase healthy foods (Reger et al. 1999; Gittelsohn and Sharma 2009). However, despite promising findings from the literature, price reduction strategies may have limited feasibility at carryout restaurants since these stores are privately owned and would need to consider profitability. "
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    ABSTRACT: Low-income African Americans bear a disproportionately high burden of chronic diseases associated with intakes of prepared foods, including those commonly found in carryout restaurants. This study collected formative data to investigate the main factors that influence ordering practices in carryout restaurants and to identify possible intervention strategies. Twenty in-depth interviews and two focus groups were conducted. From the perspectives of carryout customers and owners, the most salient factors affecting ordering practices were habit, price, taste, and food appearance. Study recommendations include manipulating prices and adding photographs of healthy items to carryout menus to encourage healthier ordering practices in carryout restaurants.
    Ecology of Food and Nutrition 11/2012; 51(6):481-91. DOI:10.1080/03670244.2012.705732 · 0.81 Impact Factor
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