Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition Education
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2006
Publication Date: 3/25/2007
Citation: Connell, C.L., Yadrick, M.K., Simpson, P., Gossett, J., McGee, B., Bogle, M.L. 2007. Food supply adequacy in the lower Mississippi Delta. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 39(2):77-83. Interpretive Summary: Choosing a healthy diet depends on the ability to afford and to obtain healthy food choices. Research has begun to demonstrate links between the local food environment and healthy food choices. Neighborhoods with smaller grocery stores have fewer healthy choices and higher costs than neighborhoods with supermarket stores. The purpose of this study was to conduct a regional food store survey to determine the availability and quality of 102 food items in five categories: fruits and vegetables; breads and grains; meat, fish, and poultry; dairy products; and baking products, fats, and sweets. Out of 225 stores surveyed in the Lower Mississippi Delta region, 62 were supermarkets, 77 were small/medium grocery stores, and 86 were convenience stores. Supermarkets carried significantly more of the 102 food items and had higher quality ratings for fresh and frozen foods in comparison to other types of stores. Small/medium stores carried 2/3 of the fats and sweet items; convenience stores carried 44% of fats and sweets compared to only 40% of fruits and vegetable items carried by small/medium stores and less than 20% of fruits and vegetables were carried by convenience stores. Lack of access to quality fruits and vegetables limits the ability to obtain the food items from the Thrifty Food Plan that allows a nutritious diet to be obtained at a modest cost. In the Lower Mississippi Delta, food adequacy and food quality appear to be limited by availability and access to healthy food choices in this largely rural and minority populated region. The greater availability of high-energy-dense food items in the small/medium stores and in the convenience stores suggest that food choices are likely to be limited and poorer in the rural neighborhoods of the Delta than in urban and suburban neighborhoods of the United States.
Technical Abstract: Objective: We assessed food adequacy in the Lower Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Design: A regional food store survey was conducted to determine the availability and quality of 102 food items in 62 supermarkets, 77 small/medium and 86 convenience stores across 18 counties in the region. Setting: The Lower Mississippi Delta region of the United States. Results: Supermarkets carried significantly more of the 102 food items than either small/medium (P< .0001) or convenience stores (P< .0001). Supermarkets had significantly higher quality ratings for fresh and frozen foods compared to small/medium and convenience stores (P< .0001). Small/medium stores carried 66% of fats and sweets food items and convenience stores carried 43.5% of fats and sweets items compared to 40.4% and 16.5% of fruits and vegetable items respectively. Conclusions: These findings suggest food adequacy is limited in the Lower Mississippi Delta due to lower availability of economical, nutritionally adequate foods in small/medium and convenience stores, and greater availability of high energy dense food items in small/medium and convenience stores.