Measuring Food Availability and Access in African-American Communities

Implications for Intervention and Policy

This article examines the study of food environments in African-American communities. The increase in obesity in the United States disproportionately impacts African Americans, as well as other minority groups.

Major challenges in building a robust body of research in this area include the limited research available on culture and food, the lack of community input in food environment studies, and the absence of tools to assess nontraditional sources of food.

Recommendations:

  • Develop tools to assess variation in individuals' food preferences; define neighborhoods; and examine the relationship between social, cultural and food environments.
  • Incorporate information from telephone directories, ground-truthing methods, and reports from community members into studies.
  • Test the validity and reliability of current food environment measures and develop new measures that examine interventions focused on African-American communities.

A stronger field of research on food environments and African-American communities will help inform policies targeting obesity.

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