Food insecurity in Detroit: exploring the relationship between patient-reported food insecurity and proximity to healthful grocery stores

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Public health nutrition


OBJECTIVE: The objective of the current study was to determine if patients of a large health care system in Detroit who self-identify as food insecure live further away from healthy grocery stores compared with food secure patients. Second, we explored whether food insecurity and distance to healthy grocery stores are related to ecological measures of vehicle availability in the area of residence.

DESIGN: A secondary data analysis that uses baseline data from a pilot intervention/feasibility study.

SETTING: Detroit, Michigan, USA.

PARTICIPANTS: Patients of Henry Ford Health System were screened for food insecurity to determine eligibility for a pilot intervention/feasibility study (i.e. Henry's Groceries for Health), conducted through a collaboration with Gleaners Community Foodbank of Southeastern Michigan. Only patients residing in Detroit city limits (including Highland Park and Hamtramck) were included in the secondary analysis. Of the 1,100 patients included in the analysis, 336 (31 %) were food insecure.

RESULTS: After accounting for socio-demographic factors associated with food insecurity, we did not find evidence that food insecure patients lived further away from healthier grocery stores, nor was this modified by ecological measures of vehicle access. However, some neighbourhoods were identified as having a significantly higher risk of food insecurity.

CONCLUSIONS: Food insecure patients in Detroit are perhaps limited by social and political determinants and not their immediate neighbourhood geography or physical access to healthy grocery stores. Future research should explore the complexity in linkages between household socio-economic factors, socio-cultural dynamics and the neighbourhood food environment.

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ePub ahead of print

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