Access to Healthful Foods among an Urban Food Insecure Population: Perceptions versus Reality
- 1.6k Downloads
The influence of local food environments on the risk for obesity is important overall, but may be particularly important for food insecure populations in urban settings. Access to healthful foods is most limited among racial and ethnic minorities and low-income populations; these same populations experience the highest rates of obesity and food insecurity. Few valid and reliable measures have been developed to assess the quality of local food environments. This research addresses this gap by introducing an inventory for measuring self-reported perceptions of food access and then compares the perceptions measure to objective assessments of local food environments. Data are focused on an urban population experiencing disproportionate rates of food insecurity. The four-item perceptions of food access inventory had high internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.80). Participants’ perceptions of access to healthful foods mirrored the reality of their food environment; however, perceptions of access to alcohol and tobacco were less accurate. Findings suggest that people living in low-income, urban, minority, and food insecure communities can validly assess (in)access to healthful foods. Future research is needed to further validate the perceptions of food access measure introduced and, more importantly, to develop strategies for increasing access to healthful foods in food insecure contexts.
KeywordsFood security Food access Local food environment Perceptions of food access Obesity Urban Social determinants of health
This research was supported in part by grants from the Baptist Healing Trust, First Tennessee, AMERIGROUP, and Tennessee Department of Health. Thank you to Liz Aleman, Anna Au, Leigh Forbush, Renee Langston, Mary Kate Mouser, Britta Muller, Laine Peeler, Sharon Shields, and Lynn Shirley for their research assistance and to the study participants for their time. We are thankful to the anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful feedback. We have no financial disclosures to report.
- 3.Nord M, Andrews M, Carlson S. Household food security in the United States, 2006. Washington: U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2007. Report No. ERR-49.Google Scholar
- 4.Nord M, Andrews M, Carlson S. Household food security in the United States, 2004. Washington: Economic Research Service; 2005. Report No. ERR-49.Google Scholar
- 5.Nord M, Andrews M, Carlson S. Household food insecurity in the United States, 2007. Washington: U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2008. Report No. ERR-60.Google Scholar
- 8.Beaulac J, Kristjansson E, Cummins S. A systematic review of food deserts, 1966–2007. Prev Chronic Dis. 2009; 6(3): 1-10.Google Scholar
- 9.Baker E, Schootman M, Barnidge E, Kelly C. The role of race and poverty in access to foods that enable individuals to adhere to dietary guidelines. Prev Chronic Dis. 2006; 3(3): 1-11.Google Scholar
- 20.Alwitt L, Donley T. Retail stores in poor urban neighborhoods. J Consum Aff. 1997; 31(1): 139-164.Google Scholar
- 24.Freedman DA. Local food environments: they're all stocked differently. Am J Community Psychol. 2009; in press.Google Scholar
- 28.Freedman DA. Politics of food access in food insecure communities. Nashville: Vanderbilt University; 2008. Dissertation.Google Scholar
- 30.U.S. Census Bureau. Decennial Census. Washington: U.S. Census Bureau; 2000.Google Scholar
- 31.Bickel G, Nord M, Price C, Hamilton W, Cook J. Guide to Measuring Household Food Security. Alexandria: U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2000.Google Scholar