Neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation and minority composition are associated with better potential spatial access to the ground-truthed food environment in a large rural area.
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Little is known about spatial inequalities and potential access to the food environment in rural areas. In this study, we assessed the food environment in a 6-county rural region of Texas (11,567 km2) through ground-truthed methods that included direct observation and on-site Global Positioning System technology to examine the relationship between neighborhood inequalities (e.g., socioeconomic deprivation and minority composition) and network distance from all 101 rural neighborhoods to the nearest food store (FS). Neighborhood deprivation was determined from socioeconomic characteristics using 2000 census block group (CBG) data. Network distances were calculated from the population-weighted center of each CBG to the nearest supermarket, grocery, convenience, and discount store. Multiple regression models examined associations among deprivation, minority composition, population density, and network distance to the nearest FS. The median distance to the nearest supermarket was 14.9 km one way (range 0.12 to 54.0 km). The distance decreased with increasing deprivation, minority composition, and population density. The worst deprived neighborhoods with the greatest minority composition had better potential spatial access to the nearest FS. For >20% of all rural residents, their neighborhoods were at least 17.7 km from the nearest supermarket or full-line grocery or 7.6 km from the nearest convenience store. This makes food shopping a challenge, especially in rural areas that lack public transportation and where many have no vehicular access. Knowledge of potential access to the food environment is essential for combining environmental approaches and health interventions so that families, especially those in rural areas, can make healthier food choices.
author list (cited authors)
Sharkey, J. R., & Horel, S.
complete list of authors
Sharkey, Joseph R||Horel, Scott