Food Environment

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An individual’s food environment can influence their food choices and diet quality. Proximity to grocery stores and restaurants, food prices, and food and nutrition assistance programs are all factors that can affect food environments. Furthermore, the characteristics of the neighborhood where an individual lives can also contribute to their ability to access healthy food.  The demographic composition, household income, poverty, urban or rural status, and access to transportation all play an important role.

Tracking the areas impacted by factors that may negatively influence their food environment allows us to:

  • Understand the factors associated with poor nutrition, increasing rates of obesity, and thus an increase in chronic diseases,
  • Develop programs designed to educate communities on making healthy food decisions,
  • Design policy interventions that may be effective in increasing access to healthy food, and
  • Encourage community development.