Prevalence of Municipal-Level Policies Dedicated to Transportation That Consider Food Access
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Prevalence of Municipal-Level Policies Dedicated to Transportation That Consider Food Access

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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
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    Local governments can address access to healthy food and transportation through policy and planning. This study is the first to examine municipal-level transportation supports for food access.


    We used a nationally representative sample of US municipalities with 1,000 or more persons from the 2014 National Survey of Community-Based Policy and Environmental Supports for Healthy Eating and Active Living (N = 2,029) to assess 3 outcomes: public transit availability, consideration of food access in transportation planning, and presence of demand-responsive transportation (DRT). We used χ2 tests to compare prevalences by municipal characteristics including population size, rurality, census region, median educational attainment, poverty prevalence, racial and ethnic population distribution, and low-income low-access to food (LILA) status.


    Among municipalities, 33.7% reported no public transit and 14.8% reported having DRT. Both public transit and DRT differed by population size (both P < .001) and census region (both P < .001) and were least commonly reported among municipalities with populations less than 2,500 (46.9% without public transit; 6.6% with DRT) and in the South (40.0% without public transit; 11.1% with DRT). Of those with public transit, 33.8% considered food access in transportation planning; this was more common with greater population size (55.9% among municipalities of ≥50,000 persons vs 16.8% among municipalities of <2,500 persons; P < .001), in the West (43.1% vs 26.8% in the Northeast, 33.7% in the Midwest, 32.2% in the South; P = .003), and municipalities with 20% or more of the population living below federal poverty guidelines (37.4% vs 32.2% among municipalities with less than 20% living in poverty; P = .07).


    Results suggest that opportunities exist to improve food access through transportation, especially in smaller and Southern communities, which may improve diet quality and reduce chronic disease.

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