|HILMERS, ANGELA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)|
|HILMERS, DAVID - Baylor College Of Medicine|
|DAVE, JAYNA - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)|
Submitted to: American Journal of Public Health
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/16/2012
Publication Date: 9/1/2012
Citation: Hilmers, A., Hilmers, D.C., Dave, J. 2012. Neighborhood disparities in access to healthy foods and their effects on environmental justice. American Journal of Public Health. 102(9):1644-1654.
Interpretive Summary: Environmental justice is when there is fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental policies. The neighborhood environment can help support and sustain favorable lifestyle patterns such as intake of nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, or can contribute to the increase of unhealthy behaviors such as higher intakes of calorie-dense foods. A review of literature was conducted on environmental justice with regards to the food environment by examining research on socioeconomic, ethnic, and racial disparities in neighborhood access to fast-food outlets and convenience stores. Neighborhoods where low-income and minority populations live were likely to have more sources of foods that promote unhealthy eating such as fast food outlets and convenience stores. This distribution also differed by racial/ethnic characteristics of the neighborhood. This, in addition to limited access to supermarkets and grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods, poses a significant barrier to the consumption of healthy foods, which in turn, results in the development of chronic health problems such as obesity. Research is needed to identify effective actions to promote environmental justice within neighborhood environments that facilitate healthy food choices for all societal groups, and evaluate intervention strategies to promote healthy eating behaviors for optimal health.
Technical Abstract: Environmental justice is concerned with an equitable distribution of environmental burdens. These burdens comprise immediate health hazards as well as subtle inequities, such as limited access to healthy foods. We reviewed the literature on neighborhood disparities in access to fast-food outlets and convenience stores. Low-income neighborhoods offered greater access to food sources that promote unhealthy eating. The distribution of fast-food outlets and convenience stores differed by the racial/ethnic characteristics of the neighborhood. Further research is needed to address the limitations of current studies, identify effective policy actions to achieve environmental justice, and evaluate intervention strategies to promote lifelong healthy eating habits, optimum health, and vibrant communities.