Welcome to my blog on healthy eating and food safety. I look forward to your comments and feedback regarding use of this tool to disseminate educational information. This blog will be updated on a regular basis.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Supermarket Access and Obesity

Supermarket Access and Obesity

The concepts of food deserts is a popular way to describe poor access to health, affordable foods in low-income neighborhoods or census tracts. Individuals with limited-income are disproportionately affected by obesity and inequitable access and availability of healthy foods has been identified as one of the root causes of obesity. A growing body of literature supports that the built food environment (food retail outlets in accessible/available locations) can influence diet quality, body weight, and other health outcomes of individuals in a given location.

The Seattle Obesity Study (SOS) was the first U.S. based study to collect data on supermarkets, socioeconomic status, and health, and intended to advance the field’s understanding of whether price or proximity is more strongly associated with obesity, controlling for individual demographics, education and income. The study found that only one in seven respondents reported shopping at the nearest supermarket. Obesity was not associated with the distance between the SOS respondent’s home and the nearest supermarket, or the supermarket the SOS respondents reported as their primary food sources. Rather, the type of supermarket, by price was found to be inversely and significant associated with obesity rates. That is, obesity prevalence among shoppers visiting supermarkets offering low-price options was three times higher (27 percent) compared to the obesity prevalence among shoppers visiting high- price supermarkets (9 percent). Shoppers at high-price supermarkets were most likely to have higher incomes and education than shoppers at low-price supermarkets.

Source: Drewnowski, A et al. Obesity and Supermarket and Supermarket Access: Proximity or Price? American Journal of Public Health. 2012; 102:e74-80.

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