How Does the Food Environment Affect Juvenile Obesity? A Study of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, Ohio

31 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2017

See all articles by Benjamin Y. Clark

Benjamin Y. Clark

University of Oregon - School of Planning, Public Policy & Management

Date Written: August 1, 2017

Abstract

It is well known that unhealthy food can contribute to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. It is also believed that the composition of the food environment (density and location of convenience stores, grocery stores, supermarkets, and restaurants in a neighborhood) can play a role in obesity and obesity-related diseases—further exacerbating or reducing health disparities that are already present in our society. To further our understanding of the role the food environment plays in health, this article will assess how the food environment may influence by utilizing geo-located individual electronic medical records (EMR) measured BMI percentile for juvenile patients in and around Cleveland, Ohio.

The findings of this study demonstrate that in Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland) food deserts or availability of healthy food retailers nearby, have no statistically significant impact on juvenile obesity. The number of unhealthy food retailers, however, does have a statistically significant impact on juvenile BMI percentile—thus the more fast-food outlets or convenience stores present nearby will increase the likelihood of higher BMI percentile. However, the size of this effect is rather small, so policy makers should heed caution before seeking to dramatically reduce the number of unhealthy retailers in a community.

Keywords: Obesity, Effects of Place on Health, Food Swamp, Food Desert

JEL Classification: I1, I12, I18, Q18

Suggested Citation

Clark, Benjamin Y., How Does the Food Environment Affect Juvenile Obesity? A Study of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, Ohio (August 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3013342 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3013342

Benjamin Y. Clark (Contact Author)

University of Oregon - School of Planning, Public Policy & Management ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States

HOME PAGE: http://bit.ly/BenClark

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