MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lillian MacNell PhD
Department of Public Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: There’s been a lot of research done on how to define and measure food deserts (areas with limited access to supermarkets), and some other studies on the dietary and related health effects of living in a food desert. But there’s been a lot less attention paid to how the people who live in those food deserts deal with this—how do they feel it affects them? How and where do they shop for food? In this study, we wanted to get a better understanding of the daily reality of living in a food desert and the strategies that people use to respond to low access to food. We interviewed 42 low-income mothers and grandmothers of young children in one urban food desert about this, and we also profiled the available food stores in the neighborhood to get a sense of what’s available for these families.
One thing we found is that most of the food stores in the neighborhood were small corner and convenience stores; these rarely offered fresh fruits and vegetables, and only a few carried canned produce or other nutritious options like low-fat milk and wheat bread. When we did see those items in the neighborhood, they cost about 25% more than they did at the nearest supermarkets. So in terms of the environment, these women were working with fewer options at a higher price, unless they traveled outside of their neighborhoods to reach large supermarkets.