Peer Reviewed: Assessing Retail Fruit and Vegetable Availability in Urban and Rural Underserved Communities

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University at Albany School of Public Health, One University Pl, Rensselaer, NY 12144-3456, USA.
Preventing chronic disease (Impact Factor: 2.12). 11/2008; 5(4):A123.
Source: PubMed


Fruits and vegetables (F&Vs) are important parts of a healthy, balanced diet. Consumption of F&Vs is low among residents of socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. We investigated and compared retail F&V availability in urban and rural underserved communities in New York State.
All food retail stores and farmers' markets (N = 263) in downtown Albany and in Columbia and Greene counties in New York State were visited and surveyed. Food stores were classified as F&V stores if they stocked more than the minimum varieties of fresh F&Vs defined by this study and as fruit-for-snack stores if they had ready-to-eat fruits only. Store density per 10,000 residents was calculated as a standardized measure of F&V availability. Adjustment weights were created to incorporate store size and business hours into the analysis.
The weight-adjusted density (per 10,000 residents) of F&V stores was 4.6 in Albany's minority neighborhood (reference category), 11.4 in Albany's racially mixed neighborhood (P = .01), 7.8 in Columbia and Greene counties' rural community (P = .10), and 9.8 in Columbia and Greene counties' small-town community (P = .02). Significant differences were not found in fruit-for-snack stores, which ranged from 2.0 per 10,000 in the mixed neighborhood to 3.4 per 10,000 in the rural community.
The urban minority neighborhood had the most barriers to fresh F&Vs in retail outlets, even when compared with the rural community. The low availability of retail F&Vs in the minority neighborhood was attributed to the lack of supermarkets and not the absolute lack of food stores. Public health intervention strategies to increase retail F&V availability in urban minority neighborhoods may aid in mitigating these disparities.

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Available from: Akiko Hosler, Jan 14, 2014
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    • "Contrasting results were found between studies measuring availability of fruits and vegetables within minority neighborhoods: two studies found that neighborhoods with primarily Black resident had a lower proportion of stores that carried fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables [17, 40, 64] and one study found the fruits and vegetables were more expensive [26]. Additionally, other studies conducted in urban and minority neighborhoods found a low proportion of quality fruits and vegetables available [20, 21, 48, 51]. However, several studies conducted in urban settings in the United States and in the United Kingdom found no difference in availability based on neighborhood characteristics [67, 84, 86]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Description of the consumer food environment has proliferated in publication. However, there has been a lack of systematic reviews focusing on how the consumer food environment is associated with the following: (1) neighborhood characteristics; (2) food prices; (3) dietary patterns; and (4) weight status. We conducted a systematic review of primary, quantitative, observational studies, published in English that conducted an audit of the consumer food environment. The literature search included electronic, hand searches, and peer-reviewed from 2000 to 2011. Fifty six papers met the inclusion criteria. Six studies reported stores in low income neighborhoods or high minority neighborhoods had less availability of healthy food. While, four studies found there was no difference in availability between neighborhoods. The results were also inconsistent for differences in food prices, dietary patterns, and weight status. This systematic review uncovered several key findings. (1) Systematic measurement of determining availability of food within stores and store types is needed; (2) Context is relevant for understanding the complexities of the consumer food environment; (3) Interventions and longitudinal studies addressing purchasing habits, diet, and obesity outcomes are needed; and (4) Influences of price and marketing that may be linked with why people purchase certain items.
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    • "We selected off-street parking, clearly marked handicap parking space, automatic store doors, and a ramp or curb cuts at the entrance level to the ground as indicators of disability access, based on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 public accommodation recommendations. The number of cash registers was used as a measure for store size, as suggested by published studies (Horowitz, Colson, Hebert & Lancaster, 2004; Hosler, Rajulu, Fredrick & Ronsani, 2008 "
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    ABSTRACT: This study aims to assess availability, affordability, and accessibility of food items in a low-income Latino neighborhood within a small city using an on-site food store survey. Store locations were identified by on-site GPS. Results showed the Latino neighborhood had limited availability and above average cost of high-fiber bread. Fresh vegetables were more expensive compared to the non-Latino neighborhood, and more stores in the Latino neighborhood participated in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Food Program. The lack of supermarkets, fewer stores with disability access, and the lack of public transportation left Latino residents without a vehicle or with physical disabilities with few food shopping options.
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    • "The importance of fruit and vegetable consumption to health has been well established [7,66-68]. Considering the importance of geographic access to retail food resources, few studies have focused on access to fruit and vegetables in rural areas [16,50,65]; even fewer examined the relationship between food access and fruit and vegetable consumption among seniors, regardless of location [44]. This study extends our understanding of spatial challenges to nutritional health faced by seniors in a large rural area lacking public transportation. "
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