Authors: Yingru Li*, University of Central Florida, Shuoyang Wang, Auburn University, Guanqun Cao, Auburn University, Dapeng Li, South Dakota State University, Boon Peng Ng, University of Central Florida
Topics: Regional Geography, Applied Geography, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: Food retail environment, availability, healthfulness, accessibility, obesity, racial/ethnic and income disparities
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 5
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
Objective: The unequal food retail environment (FRE) has been considered as one crucial predictor of area-based variations in obesity, however there is no clear conclusion on the relationship of FRE and obesity due to diverse measures of FRE and socioeconomic disparities. This research aims to assess county FRE with multifaceted measurements and disentangle how racial/ethnic and income disparities contribute to geographic variations in obesity rates via FRE.
Method: FRE was assessed from three perspectives, availability, healthfulness, and accessibility. Obesity rates and FRE indicators were compared among 3,107 counties stratified by racial/ethnic and income factors with two sample t test. We used Varying Coefficient Models to disentangle the influences of racial/ethnic and income factors on the FRE and obesity association.
Results: Our analysis indicates narrowing disparities in availability but persisting inequalities of healthfulness and accessibility between low- and high-income counties with low and high percentage of minority populations. Furthermore, racial/ethnic and income factors play essential roles in shaping the obesity and FRE relationship. Among three indicators, healthfulness exhibits relatively consistent relationships with obesity rates as the income or the racial/ethnic factor changes.
Conclusions: The findings indicate an urgent need for policymakers and planners to better allocate resources, for example, encourage or incentivize private sectors to open more healthy food outlets (particularly SNAP stores) in low-income and minority communities.