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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UAB Team Assesses Disparities in the Availability of Farmers Markets across the Nation

The establishment of farmers markets (FM) within communities has been recommended by researchers, policymakers, and health agencies as a prospective strategy for helping prevent obesity by making healthy food available across the nation. In an ecological study of 3,135 U.S. counties, using 2009–2010 data from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service’s Food Environment Atlas, Dr. Chelsea R. Singleton, former graduate research assistant in the department of epidemiology and Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and current post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Dr. Bisakha Sen, professor in UAB’s department of health care organization and policy; and Dr. Olivia Affuso, associate professor in UAB’s department of epidemiology, examined the relationship between FM availability and demographic, socioeconomic, health, and environmental measures on a county level to determine if differences in availability to FM occur within the United States.

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[Photo: Dr. Chelsea R. Singleton]

“Logistic regression and Poisson regression models were used to determine associations between county-level FM availability and measures such as percentage of non-Hispanic black residents, median household income, and number of grocery stores per 100,000 residents. Regression models were stratified by metro county status and all analyses were adjusted for state-level clustering. There were 1,774 counties — equal to 56.6 percent — with at least one FM available. Median household income was associated with increased odds of having at least one FM available among non-metro counties, but not metro counties. Percentage of non-Hispanic black residents and residents living in poverty were negatively associated with per capita FM among metro and non-metro counties. Per capita fast food restaurants was negatively associated with per capita FM among metro counties,” states Dr. Singleton.

Study results indicate that disparities in FM availability do exist across the country. The researchers recommend that additional research is conducted on the behavioral and health implications of FM availability within communities.

“Disparities in the Availability of Farmers Markets in the United States” was published in August in the journal Environmental Justice.

Journal article: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/env.2015.0011