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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Drexel: Disparities in the Unhealthy Food Environment in New York City, a Latent Class Growth Analysis

Disparities in the availability of food retailers in residential areas may help explain racial/ethnic and socio-economic differences in obesity risk. Although the prevalence of obesity has increased in all population groups, low-income, Black and Hispanic populations face a higher risk of obesity. Cross-sectional studies have indicated that low-income and racial/ethnic minority groups tend to be more exposed to worse food environments.

Dr. Gina Lovasi, associate professor and co-director of the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health was one of the co-authors on the study, “Disparities in trajectories of changes in the unhealthy food environment in New York City: A latent class growth analysis, 1990-2010,” published in Social Science & Medicine. The goal of this study is to improve the understanding of how the body mass index (BMI)-unhealthy food environment has evolved over time by using longitudinal data from the National Establishment Time-Series (NETS) for New York City census tracts for the period from 1990 to 2010.

The average number of BMI-unhealthy food outlets doubled from about three outlets per tract in 1990 to about six in 2010. Bodegas were the most common type of BMI-unhealthy food outlet. The results of this study show a greater increase in BMI-unhealthy food outlets in census tracts with higher population size, lower baseline household income, and lower proportion of Black residents.

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