Intervention Research Initiative executive director Margaret Bogle, left,
discusses healthy food choices with Earline Strickland, center, ARS community
consultant, and Barbara Winding, of the Hollandale community school district in
the Mississippi Delta region. Click the image for more information
story to find out more.
Delta Initiative Finding Answers to Region's
Poor Health By Jim
June 9, 2004
The Agricultural Research
Service and collaborators are identifying the underlying causes of
nutrition-related diseases in the Lower Mississippi Delta and are developing
intervention strategies to help control this growing problem.
Delta residents have high rates of obesity, heart disease,
strokes and cancer. Babies born there have lower birth weights and higher
mortality rates. Diets that lack variety and are higher in fat are two factors
that may increase the risk of nutrition-related chronic disease in that region.
Lower Mississippi Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative (Delta
NIRI) has teamed up with six institutions of higher learning to form the Lower
Mississippi Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Consortium.
One project of the consortium, a telephone survey, collected
self-reported food intake data from a representative sample of households in 36
lower Delta counties in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi to compare with
national survey data. The Foods of Our Delta Study (FOODS 2000) is providing
baseline data that could be used to develop future nutrition interventions,
according to Margaret Bogle, Delta NIRI's executive director.
Surveyors also randomly chose 228 stores where food is sold to
determine the characteristics, availability, styles and package types, quality
and prices of 102 food items, including 67 items on the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Thrifty Food
Plan. This plan is used to demonstrate how a healthy diet can be achieved on a
modest budget. The Food Store Survey found that a lack of variety and poor
quality of foods limit people's ability to eat a healthy diet. Results showed
that convenience stores are much more common in the region than supermarkets or
small and medium grocery stores.
Consortium members developed a model for building collaboration
between rural communities and university scientists. State partners in
USDA's Cooperative State Research,
Education and Extension Service will coordinate the efforts of community
research groups and encourage more community members to participate.
about this research in the June issue of
magazine, online at:
ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency.