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Article
Disparities in access to healthy and unhealthy foods in central Massachusetts: implications for public health policy
UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center Publications
  • Barbara C. Olendzki, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Elizabeth Procter-Gray, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Nicole M. Wedick, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Viji Patil, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Hua Zheng, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Kevin J. Kane, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Thomas Land, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Wenjun Li, University of Massachusetts Medical School
UMMS Affiliation
UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center; Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine
Date
3-9-2015
Document Type
Article
Abstract
OBJECTIVES: To analyze geographic and income disparities in access to healthy foods in central Massachusetts. METHODS: We surveyed 106 (92% of all) food stores longitudinally in the study area between 2007 and 2010. We analyzed the geographic and temporal variations in community- and store-level healthy food availability indices (HFAI) and unhealthy food availability indices (UFAI) overall and by select store and community characteristics. RESULTS: Twenty-seven of 68 communities in the study area (39.7%) had no food store and 5 (8.3%) had one or few stores with very limited availability of healthy foods, affecting 23.7% of the county population. Lack of food stores was associated strongly with lower housing density and upper tertile of median household income. About 45% of the surveyed stores had inadequate availabilities of healthy food. Store-level HFAI and UFAI scores were highly correlated, and higher among larger stores affiliated with a chain (vs independent). Though healthy foods were usually most available in larger stores, unhealthy foods were widely available in all stores. CONCLUSIONS: Over half of central Massachusetts communities, mostly rural and small, had either no food store or few stores with limited availabilities of healthy foods. Immediate policy interventions on the food environment are necessary in these communities. Further, without examining what is actually sold in stores, analysis of disparities in access to healthy food relies on the number of food stores, which can lead to a distorted picture of accessibility and mislead community health policies.
Rights and Permissions
Citation: J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(2):150-8. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2014.917058. Epub 2015 Mar 9. Link to article on publisher's site
Related Resources
Link to Article in PubMed
PubMed ID
25751264
Citation Information
Barbara C. Olendzki, Elizabeth Procter-Gray, Nicole M. Wedick, Viji Patil, et al.. "Disparities in access to healthy and unhealthy foods in central Massachusetts: implications for public health policy" Vol. 34 Iss. 2 (2015) ISSN: 0731-5724 (Linking)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/barbara_olendzki/86/