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Research Studies Regarding the Availability of Healthy Foods in Food Deserts

TypeList of Studies

Related SectorsHealth
TopicHealth Equity Alliance


Research Studies: Availability of Healthy Foods in Food Deserts

This document was initially shared by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. Please contact DataHaven to get involved in updating this resource.

Studies Showing Positive Correlation Between Healthy Diet and Availability of Healthy Foods

Neighborhood Environments Disparities in Access to Healthy Foods in the U.S.

Research suggests that neighborhood residents who have better access to supermarkets and limited access to convenience stores tend to have healthier diets and lower levels of obesity. Results from studies examining the accessibility of restaurants are less consistent, but there is some evidence to suggest that residents with limited access to fast food restaurants have healthier diets and lower levels of obesity. Source:

The Contextual Effect of the Local Food Environment on Residents’ Diets: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study.

These findings suggest the local food environment is associated with residents' recommended diets. Source:

Fruit and Vegetable Intake in African Americans Income and Store Characteristics.

Women shopping at supermarkets and specialty stores consumed fruit and vegetables more often, on average, than those shopping at independent grocers. Source:

Associations of the Local Food Environment with Diet Quality—A Comparison of Assessments Based on Surveys and Geographic Information Systems: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.

Conclusions: Healthy foods were less available for black participants. Low availability of healthy foods was associated with a lower-quality diet. The extent to which improvements in the availability of healthy foods results in higher-quality diets deserves further investigation. Source:

Distance to Food Stores and Adolescent Male Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: Mediation Effects.

Conclusion: Distance to SFS and fast food restaurants were associated with fruit and vegetable consumption among male adolescents. Vegetable preferences partially mediated the distance to low fat vegetable relationship. More research is needed to elucidate how environmental variables impact children's dietary intake. Source:

Neighbourhood Fruit and Vegetable Availability and Consumption: The Role of Small Food Stores in an Urban Environment.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest the possible importance of small neighbourhood food stores and their fresh produce availability in affecting fruit and vegetable intake. Source:

Community Measures of Low-Fat Milk Consumption: Comparing Store Shelves with Households.

RESULTS: The proportion of low-fat milk in stores was directly related to low-fat milk consumption in households and to the median income and urban level of the zip code. Source:

Perceived Access to Fruits and Vegetables Associated with Increased Consumption

CONCLUSIONS: Environmental factors, such as access to fruits and vegetables, can modify the effects of community interventions. Interventions with the goal of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption should consider focusing on increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in target communities. Similarly, researchers may want to study access as an intervention, not just a contextual variable. Source:

Community-level comparisons between the grocery store environment and individual dietary practices.

CONCLUSIONS: The results provide support for including measures of the grocery store environment as part of a community-level assessment of dietary behavior. Source:

Supermarket Access in the Inner Cities

This paper attempts to reignite debate about the plight of inner city neighborhoods by discussing some of the critical issues, challenges and opportunities facing the development of supermarkets in poor urban neighborhoods. Source:

Food Store Access and Household Fruit and Vegetable Use among Participants in the US Food Stamp Program.

Conclusions: Environmental factors are importantly related to dietary choice in a nationally representative sample of low-income households, reinforcing the importance of including such factors in interventions that seek to effect dietary improvements. Source:

Proximity of Supermarkets is Positively Associated with Diet Quality Index for Pregnancy

Conclusion: These findings suggest that proximity of food retail outlets influences the diet quality of pregnant women. Source:

Do the Poor Pay More for Food? Item Selection and Price Differences Affect Low-Income Household Food Costs

Low-income households may realize lower costs by selecting more economical foods and lower quality items. In areas where food choices are limited due to the kinds and locations of food stores, households may have sharply higher food costs. Source:

Policy solutions to the grocery gap.

Here we present the Food Trust’s five-step framework for increasing access to fresh, healthy food in other locales. Source:

Neighborhood socioeconomic status and fruit and vegetable intake among whites, blacks and Mexican Americans in the United States.

Conclusions: The positive association of neighborhood SES with fruit and vegetable intake is one important pathway through which the social environment of neighborhoods affects population health and nutrition for whites, blacks, and Hispanics in the United States. Source:

Food store availability and neighborhood characteristics in the United States.

CONCLUSION: The study results highlight the importance of various potential public policy measures for improving access to supermarkets that may serve to reduce systematic local area barriers that are shown to exist by race, ethnicity and income. Source:

Studies Showing Negative Correlation Between Healthy Diet and Availability of Healthy Foods

Socioeconomic and Food-Related Physical Characteristics of the Neighborhood Environment are Associated with Body Mass Index.

Conclusion: Living in low socioeconomic neighbourhoods, and in environments where healthy food is not readily available, is found to be associated with increased obesity risk. Unlike other studies which examined populations in other parts of the US, a positive association between living close to supermarkets and reduced obesity risk was not found in this study. A better understanding of the mechanisms by which neighbourhood physical characteristics influence obesity risk is needed. Source:

Other Studies: Not Yet Summarized Within This Document

"Food Environment, Built Environment, and Women’s BMI: Evidence from Erie County, New York" Source: Journal of Planning Education and Research June 2010 29: 444-460, first published on April 20, 2010.

Conclusion: According to a post by the Cleveland Clinic, at this study contains data showing "A recent study in the Journal of Planning Education and Research found that women who lived closer to a convenience store than a grocery store were more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI)."

Facts about Research Availability Healthy Food FoodDesertsRDF feed
CategoryHealth +
OrganizationDataHaven + and Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity +
SectorHealth +
TitleResearch Studies Regarding the Availability of Healthy Foods in Food Deserts +
TopicHealth Equity Alliance + and Food Policy +
Year2010 +
CreatorThis property is a special property in this wiki.DataHaven +