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Comparing Individual Perceptions of Food Desert With Quantitative Measures in Omaha, Nebraska.

Authors: Hector Samani*, University of Nebraska - Omaha, Bradley Bereitschaft, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Jennie L Hill, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Food Systems, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: Food deserts
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Food deserts have been linked to an increase in chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes, due to lower access to affordable and healthy foods. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlines various methods and variables for defining food deserts, in attempts to standardize what constitutes a food desert or their characteristics. The USDA identifies the state of Nebraska as having both rural and urban food deserts, with an increase of food insecurity from 1.1% – 3.0% between 2007 and 2012 and warns of further increase of food deserts and its impact if measures are not taken. However, there is little literature that assesses people’s perception of access to healthy food. In this study, structured questionnaires were used to collect data to appraise individual knowledge, situation, and perception about food deserts. Overlay methods in a Geographic Information System (GIS) and statistical methods were used to analyze and establish associations between individual perception and the USDA’s quantitative measure of food deserts. Kappa test showed little agreement (𝝒 = -0.043) between the perception outcomes and their USDA identified food deserts. Chi-square test found an association between perception outcome and race, household income, education, quality of food available in the grocers, and respondents who cited best prices and closer distance to grocers. The logistic regression model showed individuals with bachelor level education are likely to live in a non-food desert neighborhood.

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