Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 21, 2006
Publication Date: August 1, 2006
Citation: Chester, D.N., Harris, E.W. 2006. Cost & availability of healthy foods in Prince George's County, Maryland. Journal of American Dietetic Association. 106(8), S1-104. Technical Abstract: Learning Outcome: To design appropriate community based intervention strategies aimed at the prevention of chronic disease and obesity, a better understanding of factors that influence access to food is needed. This study addresses obtaining healthy food in communities. Text: Supporters of preventive health care assert that the presence of health promoting behaviors such as diet and exercise will alleviate the problems of chronic disease. The USDA Community Nutrition Research Group has previously used GIS to map information on opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity to increase healthy lifestyle practices in the community. In an effort to address issues related to the cost and availability of healthy foods in these communities, the Healthy Food Basket (HFB) was created. The HFB is used to determine the cost and availability of healthy foods in a shopping basket across a range of stores in different communities. It is particularly important for addressing the reasonableness of planning nutrition interventions where cost might prohibit the purchase of quality fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk products and whole grain products in communities at risk. An initial test of the HFB was conducted in three stores selected in Prince Georges County, Maryland. The HFB included the following food items: apples, bananas, broccoli, ground beef, whole-grain bread, and 2% milk. These foods reflect current dietary guidance and foods that are widely available across stores in the area. The average HFB cost was $13.50, with prices ranging from $10.89 to $15.24. The median household income for the three areas was $46,163. The store with the lowest price had the highest median income of $50,168, while the store with the highest price had the lowest median income of $41,994. Additional HFB for twelve stores randomly selected across the county will be completed. The HFB was previously done in Canada, and there is a great need for this type of research in communities across the United States. Information obtained from HFBs may prove to be quite valuable to health professionals planning nutrition interventions in community settings. Funding Disclosure: USDA.