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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Built Environ. | doi: 10.3389/fbuil.2019.00121

Environmental Justice and the Food Environment in Prince George’s County, Maryland: Assessment of Three Communities

  • 1University of Maryland, United States
  • 2University of Maryland, College Park, United States

Lack of access to a health-promoting food environment can lead to poor health outcomes including obesity which is a problem for African-Americans in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Previous research examined the quality of the food environment at the regional level but did not consider local level indicators. In this study, we utilized an environmental justice framework to examine the local food environment in the County. We collected data from 127 food outlets, (convenience stores, grocery stores, and supermarkets), in three racially and socioeconomically diverse communities – Bladensburg (predominantly African American/ Black, with the lowest median household income); Greenbelt (similar percentage of non-white persons as Hyattsville, with the highest median household income); and Hyattsville (dominated by a Hispanic population). We examined the availability, quality, and accessibility of food within each community, using a modified version of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) healthy food availability index (HFAI).We also used ArcMap 10.6 to examine the spatial distribution of stores in relation to sociodemographic factors and generate descriptive statistics to examine HFAI score differences across the communities, sociodemographic composition, and store types at the block group level. Mean HFAI scores were 7.76, 10.75, and 9.60 for Bladensburg, Greenbelt, and Hyattsville, respectively suggesting a relative disparity in access to diverse healthy and good quality food sources for these communities although these differences were not statistically significant (p=0.79). Statistically significant differences between the communities were found with respect to ethnic stores, stores that sold fresh vegetables (p=0.047), and stores that sold fresh fruits (p=0.012). Getis-Ord Gi Hot Spot Analysis revealed one statistically significant cold spot at 95% confidence, and two others at 90% confidence in Hyattsville, indicating a cluster of low-scoring stores. The results indicate a potential need for expanded food infrastructure in these communities to improve public health. We also identified the need for culturally appropriate foods and proposed ethnic stores as potential salutogens to improve the food environment in culturally diverse neighborhoods.

Keywords: environmental justice, built environment, disparities, Food Environment, food availability, Food access, dollar stores, Ethnic stores

Received: 08 Jan 2019; Accepted: 01 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Kavi, Sinisterra, Bodenreider, Bellay, Ayub, Ravichandran, Archer and Wilson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mrs. Lucy Kavi, University of Maryland, College Park, United States, lkavi@umd.edu