Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Background: Food deserts are areas of decreased access to nutritious and affordable foods. Residing within a defined food desert is thought to decrease consumption of produce, dairy, and whole grains and increase consumption of energy-dense foods as well as body mass index (BMI).
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of the level of food security on consumption of fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, high-sugar foods, high-fat foods, and BMI.
Design: A one-time, self-administered data collection packet was sent to residents of a food desert. The Dietary Screener Questionnaire was utilized to determine the average daily consumption of fruit, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, high-sugar foods, and high-fat foods. Additional questions were inquired to determine BMI, education level, income level, employment status, grocery shopping frequency, and vehicle accessibility.
Participants: A sample population was recruited from a food desert located in Bloomington, Illinois. Surveys were sent via the United States Postal Service to 953 residents. Inclusion criteria included: at least 18 years of age, reside within the defined food desert tract, and ability to read and understand English. Participants were of any race, ethnicity, education level, or income level.
Results: Demographic findings revealed the sample population were predominately food secure individuals with higher education levels and medium to high incomes. Statistical analysis revealed no significant correlations between level of food security, average consumption of fruit, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, energy-dense foods, or BMI. However, significant correlations were exposed between food security and mode of transportation (r = .277, p = .017), grocery shopping frequency (r = .330, p = .000) and income (r = -.345, p = .000). Significant correlations were found between education level and BMI (r = -.253, p = .009) and education level and high fat food intake (r = -.233, p = .004). More significant correlations were found between food groups, revealing dietary patterns and trends.
Conclusions: Findings of this study emphasize the importance of continued research of food deserts and food security. Individualized intervention strategies have the ability to address the specific needs of food desert residents, which may vary depending on the food desert. Significant correlations were found between food security and vehicle accessibility, grocery shopping frequency, and income as well as between level of education and BMI. While food insecurity was not found to have a direct correlation to diet or BMI, its correlation to other variables suggest it could have an indirect affect.
Baietto, Jamey Ann, "Desert within a City: Exploring the Relationship between Food Security, Diet, and Body Mass Index" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 839.