Skip to main content
construction release_alert
Scholars@Duke will be undergoing maintenance April 11-15. Some features may be unavailable during this time.
cancel

Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Cooksey-Stowers, K; Schwartz, MB; Brownell, KD
Published in: International journal of environmental research and public health
November 2017

This paper investigates the effect of food environments, characterized as food swamps, on adult obesity rates. Food swamps have been described as areas with a high-density of establishments selling high-calorie fast food and junk food, relative to healthier food options. This study examines multiple ways of categorizing food environments as food swamps and food deserts, including alternate versions of the Retail Food Environment Index. We merged food outlet, sociodemographic and obesity data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Environment Atlas, the American Community Survey, and a commercial street reference dataset. We employed an instrumental variables (IV) strategy to correct for the endogeneity of food environments (i.e., that individuals self-select into neighborhoods and may consider food availability in their decision). Our results suggest that the presence of a food swamp is a stronger predictor of obesity rates than the absence of full-service grocery stores. We found, even after controlling for food desert effects, food swamps have a positive, statistically significant effect on adult obesity rates. All three food swamp measures indicated the same positive association, but reflected different magnitudes of the food swamp effect on rates of adult obesity (p values ranged from 0.00 to 0.16). Our adjustment for reverse causality, using an IV approach, revealed a stronger effect of food swamps than would have been obtained by naïve ordinary least squares (OLS) estimates. The food swamp effect was stronger in counties with greater income inequality (p < 0.05) and where residents are less mobile (p < 0.01). Based on these findings, local government policies such as zoning laws simultaneously restricting access to unhealthy food outlets and incentivizing healthy food retailers to locate in underserved neighborhoods warrant consideration as strategies to increase health equity.

Duke Scholars

Altmetric Attention Stats
Dimensions Citation Stats

Published In

International journal of environmental research and public health

DOI

EISSN

1660-4601

ISSN

1661-7827

Publication Date

November 2017

Volume

14

Issue

11

Start / End Page

E1366

Related Subject Headings

  • United States
  • Toxicology
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Obesity
  • Income
  • Humans
  • Food Supply
  • Fast Foods
  • Environment
  • Diet, Healthy
 

Citation

APA
Chicago
ICMJE
MLA
NLM
Cooksey-Stowers, K., Schwartz, M. B., & Brownell, K. D. (2017). Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(11), E1366. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14111366
Cooksey-Stowers, Kristen, Marlene B. Schwartz, and Kelly D. Brownell. “Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States.International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14, no. 11 (November 2017): E1366. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14111366.
Cooksey-Stowers K, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2017 Nov;14(11):E1366.
Cooksey-Stowers, Kristen, et al. “Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States.International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 14, no. 11, Nov. 2017, p. E1366. Epmc, doi:10.3390/ijerph14111366.
Cooksey-Stowers K, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2017 Nov;14(11):E1366.

Published In

International journal of environmental research and public health

DOI

EISSN

1660-4601

ISSN

1661-7827

Publication Date

November 2017

Volume

14

Issue

11

Start / End Page

E1366

Related Subject Headings

  • United States
  • Toxicology
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Obesity
  • Income
  • Humans
  • Food Supply
  • Fast Foods
  • Environment
  • Diet, Healthy