Assessing Retail Fruit and Vegetable Availability in Urban and Rural Underserved Communities
Published Date:Sep 15 2008
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 2008; 5(4).
Funding:U48/DP000028/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
Fruits and vegetables (F&Vs) are important parts of a healthy, balanced diet. Consumption of F&Vs is low among residents of socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. We investigated and compared retail F&V availability in urban and rural underserved communities in New York State.
All food retail stores and farmers' markets (N = 263) in downtown Albany and in Columbia and Greene counties in New York State were visited and surveyed. Food stores were classified as F&V stores if they stocked more than the minimum varieties of fresh F&Vs defined by this study and as fruit-for-snack stores if they had ready-to-eat fruits only. Store density per 10,000 residents was calculated as a standardized measure of F&V availability. Adjustment weights were created to incorporate store size and business hours into the analysis.
The weight-adjusted density (per 10,000 residents) of F&V stores was 4.6 in Albany's minority neighborhood (reference category), 11.4 in Albany's racially mixed neighborhood (P = .01), 7.8 in Columbia and Greene counties' rural community (P = .10), and 9.8 in Columbia and Greene counties' small-town community (P = .02). Significant differences were not found in fruit-for-snack stores, which ranged from 2.0 per 10,000 in the mixed neighborhood to 3.4 per 10,000 in the rural community.
The urban minority neighborhood had the most barriers to fresh F&Vs in retail outlets, even when compared with the rural community. The low availability of retail F&Vs in the minority neighborhood was attributed to the lack of supermarkets and not the absolute lack of food stores. Public health intervention strategies to increase retail F&V availability in urban minority neighborhoods may aid in mitigating these disparities.
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