Research Spotlight

The Research Spotlight shares key findings from recent articles in the healthy food access field. Articles are in reverse chronological order, with more recent articles added at the top. For more information, select full text or abstract links listed for each article.

NEW! Study finds a new supermarket improves health, food security and economic status
Can the Introduction of a Full-Service Supermarket in a Food Desert Improve Residents' Economic Status and Health?
Study summary >
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Richardson et al., Annals of Epidemiology, Dec 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2017.10.011.
The community that received a new supermarket experienced less food insecurity, fewer new cases of high cholesterol and arthritis, and lower SNAP participation over time when compared to a similar community that did not receive a supermarket. The supermarket community also saw trends of increasing resident incomes and fewer new cases of diabetes. Both study communities are predominantly African-American (95%) and low-income, groups most affected by health disparities. While neighborhood economic gains can be associated with gentrification, researchers found that less than 1% of the supermarket community moved away from the neighborhood. Therefore local residents enrolled in the study were not pushed out by improvements. This study provides strong evidence that introducing a new supermarket in a previously underserved community brings health and economic benefits for local residents.

"Doubling Up" on Produce at Detroit Farmers Markets: Patterns and Correlates of Use of a Healthy Food Incentive
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Cohen et al., American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published online Dec 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.10.005.

Use of SNAP benefits at Detroit farmers markets was far greater than corresponding national rates during the "Double Up" program. Demographics of Double Up Food Bucks users were similar to the overall Detroit SNAP-enrolled population, except that Double Up Food Bucks users were poorer and disproportionately female. Only one-third of users were repeat customers over the 2-year study period. Repeat use of the program was directly correlated with identifying as white (p < 0.001) and inversely correlated with driving distance to the market (p < 0.001). Addressing SNAP participant barriers to initial and repeat use of healthy food incentive programs would help maximize impact among Americans at greatest risk of diet-related disease.

Bidirectional Associations Between Psychosocial Well-being and Body Mass Index in European Children: Longitudinal Findings from the IDEFICS Study
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Arvidsson et al., BMC Public Health, Dec 2017; DOI: 10.1186/s12889-017-4920-5.

This study followed a group of 2 to 9 year children in 8 European countries (IDEFICS Study in Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Sweden). A higher score on a dietary quality scale (the Healthy Dietary Adherence Score or HDAS) at the beginning of the study was associated with better self-esteem and fewer emotional and peer problems 2 years later (when controlling for socioeconomic status and body weight).

Association Between Living in Food Deserts and Cardiovascular Risk
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Kelli et al., Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, Sep 2017; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.116.003532.

Food deserts are bad for your health. In this study, living in a food dessert was associated with greater health burden, including higher blood glucose, higher BMI, more hypertension, smoking, and greater 10-year cardiovascular risk. In multivariate models, the associations between living in a food desert and poor health were attributed mostly to low neighborhood income and low household income.

Discrete Choice Model of Food Store Trips Using National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS)
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Hillier et al., Int J Environ Res Public Health, Sep 2017; DOI: 10.3390/ijerph14101133.

The main effects on store choice are larger store size, full-service supermarket, closer location to home. SNAP participants were more likely to choose larger stores, Hispanics were more likely than non-Hispanics to choose full-service supermarkets, and, on average, whites travelled further to go shopping.

Could EBT Machines Increase Fruit and Vegetable Purchases at New York City Green Carts?
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Breck et al., Prev Chronic Dis, Sep 2017; DOI: 10.5888/pcd14.170104.
This study of Bronx, NYC produce carts found that shoppers who used SNAP benefits to make purchases (through EBT machines) bought over twice as many cup equivalents of fruits and vegetables than the overall sample (18.5 vs. 8.7 cups).

Personal Characteristics, Cooking at Home and Shopping Frequency Influence Consumption
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Gustat et al., Prev Med Rep, Feb 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2017.02.007.

Shopping at full-service grocery stores, farmers markets and cooking at home were positively associated with consumption of daily servings of fresh produce. Shopping at convenience stores was associated with increased consumption of chips, candy and pastries. These findings can inform the design of programmatic interventions to increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption among residents in low-income urban communities.

Change in Neighborhood Characteristics and Change in Coronary Artery Calcium: A Longitudinal Investigation in the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) Cohort
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Freedman et al., Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, May 2017; DOI 10.1016/j.jneb.2017.01.007.
This study finds that implementing a multi-component farmers market approach - establishing markets in low-income neighborhoods, accepting SNAP benefits, and availability of a healthy food incentive program - can increase farmers market use among SNAP populations. Healthy food incentive programs were found to further the reach of farmers markets among SNAP recipients. Even when SNAP is accepted and incentives are offered, efforts are still needed to address barriers to first-time and repeat use of farmers markets among low-income populations, such as lack of awareness about the acceptance of SNAP and transportation barriers.

Farmers Market Use Patterns Among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participants with High Access to Farmers Markets
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Wing et al., Circulation, Aug 2016; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.020534.
This report comes from the longitudinal MESA study conducted across 6 sites. Greater access to neighborhood healthy food resources slowed development of coronary artery disease in middle-aged and older adults over 12 years of follow-up.

Residents' Diet and Perceptions Changed After a New Supermarket Came To a Food Desert, But Not Because Of Supermarket Use
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Dubowitz et al., Health Aff, Dec 2015; DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0667.

Moderate improvement in dietary quality after a store opened in a food desert; Improvements in perceptions of healthy food access and neighborhood satisfaction. No change in fruit and vegetable consumption or BMI one year after supermarket opened.

Assessment of a Government-Subsidized Supermarket in a High-Need Area on Household Food Availability and Children's Dietary Intakes
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Elbel et al., Public Health Nutr, Oct 2015; DOI: 10.1017/S1368980015000282.

Respondents who shopped at a new government subsidized supermarket in South Bronx ate at home more and children drank fewer sugar sweetened beverage. However, a year after the store opened, no improvements were observed in household food availability, fruit and vegetable consumption, or children's dietary intake.

Access to Healthy Food Stores Modifies Effect of a Dietary Intervention
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Wedick et al., Am J Prev Med, Mar 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.08.020.

Effects of a dietary intervention on fruit, vegetable, and fiber intake improved with shorter distance to a grocery store.

Fresh Produce Consumption and the Association Between Frequency of Food Shopping, Car Access, and Distance to Supermarkets
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Gustat et al., Prev Med Rep, Jan 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2014.12.009.

Produce consumption was positively associated with number of monthly grocery shopping trips. Further distance from supermarkets deterred shopping frequency. Access to closer stores may promote more frequent shopping and fruit and vegetables consumption.

New Neighborhood Grocery Store Increased Awareness Of Food Access But Did Not Alter Dietary Habits Or Obesity
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Cummins et al., Health Aff, Feb 2014; DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0512.

Awareness of food access increased, but no changes in fruit and vegetable consumption or BMI were detected one year after a supermarket opened in an underserved Philadelphia community.

The Local Food Environment and Diet: A Systematic Review
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Caspi et al., Health Place, Sept 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.05.006

Literature review evaluating food environment-diet relationship; explores literature according to the 5 dimensions of "food access" (availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptability, accommodation) and recommends future research directions including mixed-method approaches and further developing measures.