The Link Between Residential Segregation and Disparities in the Food Environment. an Analysis of Metropolitan Areas
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This paper uses two measures of the food environment– the Retail Food Environment Index a ratio of the numbers of healthy to less healthy food outlets and Food Balance Score – a ratio of the distances to the nearest healthy to less healthy food outlets. Variance function regression (VFR) is used to simultaneously model the means (between–metropolitan-area differences) and variances (within-metropolitan-area differences), and therefore the net effects of residential segregation on the food environment.
Results show that the retail food environment varies by residential segregation. Metros that are more segregated tend to have fewer healthy food outlets compared to less healthy outlets. Residents of metros that are more segregated also have larger travel distances to healthy food outlets compared to less healthy options. Further, residential segregation has the effect of reducing variation in both the Retail Food Environment Score and the Food Balance Score. The effect is especially strong for segregation by income. Areas where the poor or the affluent are segregated from the overall population, tend to have lower average food environment scores and less variation in those scores.
By shedding light on the specific aspects of residential segregation that impact the food environment, this paper fits into both the debate over the consequences of segregation, and the debate over effective food retail zoning and accessibility.