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Black Neighborhoods Have Fewer Healthy Food Options

Low availability of healthy foods linked to low-quality diet

THURSDAY, Mar. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Areas of Baltimore with a predominantly black or lower-income population have fewer healthy foods available than white and higher-income areas, according to two studies, one published in the December 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and the other in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Manuel Franco, M.D., Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a study of 159 neighborhoods in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, and found that whereas only 4 percent of predominantly white and 13 percent of higher-income neighborhoods were in the lowest tertile for availability of healthy foods, 43 percent of predominantly black neighborhoods and 46 percent of lower-income neighborhoods were in that category.

Franco and colleagues also conducted a study of 759 Baltimore residents and assessed their diet quality and ease of access to healthy foods. The researchers found that there was an association between low quality of diet and low availability of healthy food options within the area of residence. Twenty-four percent of black study participants lived in neighborhoods with a low availability of healthy food, compared with only 5 percent of white participants, the report indicates.

"Studies recruiting participants over larger and more diverse areas, including a broader spectrum of race-ethnicity and socioeconomic conditions and perhaps greater variation in food environments are needed to better study the relations between the food environment and diet quality and the complex influence of race-ethnicity on both of these factors," the authors write in the second study.

Abstract - American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)
Abstract - American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

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