Differences in Food Environment Perceptions and Spatial Attributes of Food Shopping Between Residents of Low and High Food Access Areas

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Abstract

Objective:

To explore potential differences in food shopping behaviors and healthy food availability perceptions between residents living in areas with low and high food access.

Design:

A cross-sectional telephone survey to assess food shopping behaviors and perceptions. Data from an 8-county food environment field census used to define the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) healthier food retail tract and US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service food desert measure.

Participants:

A total of 968 residents in 8 South Carolina counties.

Main Outcome Measures:

Residents' food shopping behaviors and healthy food availability perceptions.

Analysis:

Linear and logistic regression.

Results:

Compared with residents in high food access areas, residents in low food access areas traveled farther to their primary food store (US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service: 8.8 vs 7.1 miles, P = .03; CDC: 9.2 vs 6.1 miles, P < .001), accumulated more total shopping miles per week (CDC: 28.0 vs 15.4 miles; P < .001), and showed differences in perceived healthy food availability (P < .001) and shopping access (P < .001).

Conclusions and Implications:

These findings lend support to ongoing community and policy interventions aimed at reducing food access disparities.

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