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To examine the association of both perceived and geographic neighbourhood food access with food security status among households with children.
This was a cross-sectional study in which participants’ perceptions of neighbourhood food access were assessed by a standard survey instrument, and geographic food access was evaluated by distance to the nearest supermarket. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to examine the associations.
The Midlands Family Study included 544 households with children in eight counties in South Carolina, USA. Food security status among participants was classified into three categories: food secure (FS), food insecure (FI) and very low food security among children (VLFS-C).
Compared with FS households, VLFS-C households had lower odds of reporting easy access to adequate food shopping. VLFS-C households also had lower odds of reporting neighbourhood access to affordable fruits and vegetables compared with FS households and reported worse selection of fruits and vegetables, quality of fruits and vegetables, and selection of low-fat products. FI households had lower odds of reporting fewer opportunities to purchase fast food. None of the geographic access measures was significantly associated with food security status.
Caregivers with children who experienced hunger perceived that they had less access to healthy affordable food in their community, even though grocery stores were present. Approaches to improve perceived access to healthy affordable food should be considered as part of the overall approach to improving food security and eliminating child hunger.
Fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake is influenced by behavioural and environmental factors, but these have rarely been assessed simultaneously. We aimed to quantify the relative influence of supermarket availability, perceptions of the food environment and shopping behaviour on F&V intake.
A cross-sectional study.
Eight counties in South Carolina, USA, with verified locations of all supermarkets.
A telephone survey of 831 household food shoppers ascertained F&V intake with a seventeen-item screener, primary food store location, shopping frequency and perceptions of healthy food availability, and supermarket availability was calculated with a geographic information system. Path analysis was conducted. We report standardized beta coefficients on paths significant at the 0·05 level.
Frequency of grocery shopping at primary food store (β = 0·11) was the only factor exerting an independent, statistically significant direct effect on F&V intake. Supermarket availability was significantly associated with distance to utilized food store (β = −0·24) and shopping frequency (β = 0·10). Increased supermarket availability was significantly and positively related to perceived healthy food availability in the neighbourhood (β = 0·18) and ease of shopping access (β = 0·09). Collectively considering all model paths linked to perceived availability of healthy foods, this measure was the only other factor to have a significant total effect on F&V intake.
While the majority of the literature to date has suggested an independent and important role of supermarket availability for F&V intake, our study found only indirect effects of supermarket availability and suggests that food shopping frequency and perceptions of healthy food availability are two integral components of a network of influences on F&V intake.
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