Food Deserts

Dianna Smith and Steven Cummins

in The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736362
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Food Deserts

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This chapter investigates the physical, social, and economic elements of food access and synthesizes the findings from the extant international literature, specifically exploring how food deserts have been defined and operationalized, and the key concepts and debates surrounding this term. A review of the evidence for the existence of food deserts follows, taking account of both observational and intervention studies. The relationship between food access and health outcomes, and the qualitative work on the experience of living in a “food desert” and how this affects food consumption patterns, are evaluated. There are typically three components that define a food desert: food access, food affordability, and food availability. Retail food access is an important factor in individual diet. Poor food access and the presence of food deserts certainly may contribute to ill health in some areas, but the effects of food deserts are mediated by a number of factors.

Keywords: food deserts; food access; food consumption; food affordability; food availability; health

Article.  5036 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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