Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/26/2010
Publication Date: 7/27/2011
Citation: McGee, B.B., Johnson, G.S., Yadrick, M.K., Richardson, V., Simpson, P.M., Gossett, J.M., Thornton, A., Johnson, C., Bogle, M.L. 2011. Food shopping perceptions, behaviors, and ability to purchase healthful food items in the Lower Mississippi Delta. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 43(5):339-348. Interpretive Summary: The purpose of this paper is to identify perceptions of Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD) residents regarding factors that influence a change in healthy food consumption behavior, to assist in planning sustainable nutrition interventions in the LMD. Nine discussion groups were conducted with LMD residents in nine counties in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. One discussion group was held in each county on the topical area of behavioral change. The study included 91 persons, 85 females and 6 males (18-60+ years of age), and 71 African Americans, 17 Caucasians, and three (3) Hispanics, who participated in the focus group discussions. The perceptions of residents were influenced by health concerns, family influence, and need for and availability of nutrition information. Residents were interested in learning about healthy eating, food preparation skills, and portion control. This information will be used to guide the development and implementation of community-based participatory interventions in the LMD.
Technical Abstract: FOODS 2000, a nutritional survey conducted in 18 counties in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, provided information about dietary intake. A food store survey investigated the availability and price of foods. One focus group on shopping perceptions was conducted in each of nine counties. Foods perceived as healthy and purchased included green beans, peas and greens. Although 86-93% of supermarkets had these vegetables, they were available in <20% of small to medium grocery stores and <4% of convenience stores. Average daily serving of green vegetables reported by adults was 0.14 +/- 0.02. Although breads were perceived as healthy, whole wheat bread was available in < 85% of supermarkets. Toasted oats and oatmeal were close to 100% available in supermarkets but <63% available elsewhere. Average daily servings of breads and grains were 5.9 +/- 0.09. When comparing perceived healthy food choices such as skim versus whole milk, the study found limited availability of skim milk. Cost and availability were perceived as barriers in purchasing healthy foods. Limited availability and perceived costs of healthy foods in the LMD influenced purchasing behaviors. Development of nutrition interventions targeting food purchases is of limited value without changing availability within local stores in the LMD.