Grocery boost

May 20, 2008

Low-income neighborhoods that lack easy access to grocery stores could lead to a breakdown of food security for hundreds of thousands of people - not in the developing world, but in major urban areas of the U.S. That's the conclusion from a report to be published in the inaugural issue of the International Journal Behavioural and Healthcare Research produced by Inderscience Publishers.

Economists Nathan Berg and James Murdoch of the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, at the University of Texas-Dallas, have looked closely at the locations of grocery stores across Dallas County, and have classified neighborhoods according to the number of grocery stores within a one-mile radius. They have correlated this spatial distribution with data from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the US Census to map distinct demographic characteristics in areas with many as opposed to few grocery stores.

"No-grocery-store neighborhoods are predominantly low-income and concentrated in southern Dallas," the researchers say, "and African-American neighborhoods have significantly fewer grocery stores." Many people in more prosperous neighborhoods take for granted that there are local grocery stores that can provide them with a wide variety of nutritious food at relatively low cost. This report offers new evidence that access to reasonably priced, nutritious food is much more difficult than one might hope.

Berg and Murdoch suggest that such disparities in access to nutritious food mean that as many as 400,000 low-income residents of Dallas County face significant challenges in providing healthy diets to their families, with all the repercussions for health, behavior, and society that entails.

The researchers point out that a similar disparity might be seen across the U.S. And other studies have linked poor access to reasonably priced, nutritious food to greater risks of failing to meet dietary recommendations from mainstream medical and government health organizations.

"New policy approaches are required to bring rapid improvements in food security," the researchers say, suggesting that city leaders should recruit companies to address the problem of under-supplied locations to demonstrate untapped potential for profits and encourage other stores to follow.

"Given the importance of healthy diets, perhaps a rethinking of the institutional framework that determines food supply in the U.S. should be more prominent among issues analyzed in economics and policy-related sciences," the researchers conclude.

Source: Inderscience Publishers

Explore further: How food manufacturers are making gluten-free products tastier and healthier

Related Stories

Gravity, who needs it? NASA studies your body in space

November 18, 2015

What happens to your body in space? NASA's Human Research Program has been unfolding answers for over a decade. Space is a dangerous, unfriendly place. Isolated from family and friends, exposed to radiation that could increase ...

It's time to stop thinking in terms of food versus fuel

September 14, 2015

Whether you have taken a side or a backseat in the discussion, the "food versus fuel" debate affects us all. Some say growing more biofuel crops today will decrease greenhouse gas emissions, but will make it harder to produce ...

Recommended for you

Four pre-Inca tombs found in Peru's Lima

November 27, 2015

Archaeologists in Peru have found four tombs that are more than 1,000 years old in a pyramid-shaped cemetery that now sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Lima, experts said.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4 / 5 (1) May 22, 2008
Why are these stores not already there?
Because those locations are not profitable
i.e. high theft & unreliable workers
How do you recruit stores into an area where they know they will not make money?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.