A recent Kansas State University study found that the availability of supermarkets -- rather than the lack of them --increased the risk of obesity for low-income women living in small cities. This suggests that policies to increase healthful eating behaviors might need to be tailored based on geographic location.
K-State researchers studied the availability of food stores for low-income women in Kansas to see whether there was a link to obesity. The findings showed that limited availability of grocery stores did not contribute to an increased risk of obesity in metropolitan or rural areas, but it was associated with an increased risk of obesity in micropolitan areas in Kansas, defined as cities with fewer than 40,000 people.
"This study was one of the first to look at supermarket availability across the urban-rural continuum, and the findings suggest that policies to increase healthful food availability may need to differ depending on urban influence," said David Dzewaltowski, K-State professor and department head of kinesiology.
Dzewaltowski and Paula Ford, assistant professor of public health sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso, published the study in the January issue of Obesity, a research journal. Ford led the project as a doctoral student at K-State.
Research has shown that a lack of nearby food stores that offer healthful items contributes to higher incidences of obesity for consumers. Studies also have shown that low-income residents have an improved quality of diet when larger grocery stores and supermarkets are available. That's because these stores often supply consumers with healthful foods at a lower cost compared to small grocery and convenience stores.
Dzewaltowski said most studies that have investigated links between food environments and obesity have relied upon census tracts or ZIP codes for analysis. However, this can lead to faulty results. The K-State study used a statewide, ge
|Contact: David Dzewaltowski|
Kansas State University