Evans-Alan Funding | Food Security
Tennessee | Tennessee State University Agricultural Research and Extension Center | 1890 Institutions Region
Economic and physical food environments play an important role in consumers' food choices and health outcomes. Many Americans live in communities with limited access to grocery stores, and millions of Americans live in so-called "food deserts" or low-income communities that lack convenient access to affordable and nutritious foods. This limited access to affordable, healthy food is a significant contributor to the national obesity epidemic and other health concerns. To combat this widespread problem facing so many Americans, the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity set sights on eliminating food deserts and increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables in the American food supply by 70% by the year 2020.
TSU scientists are examining food environments and the demand for fruits and vegetables in Davidson County-the second-largest food desert cluster in Tennessee, with an abnormally high obesity rate of 37.1%. By assessing food environments in terms of availability, affordability, and socioeconomic characteristics, the impact of the environment on the demand for healthy foods is determined. This advanced economical, ecological, and statistical approach to analyzing collected data creates an innovative local food environment dataset and atlas.
This research will help to improve and reshape behavior, affordability and availability of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Drawing attention to these types of food desert conditions and establishing links between environmental factors and the demand for healthy food is instrumental in food marketing and community planning efforts. This project is one step toward the elimination of limited availability of healthy foods, which leads to solving the larger obesity epidemic.