How Does the Food Environment Affect Juvenile Obesity? A Study of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, Ohio
31 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 1, 2017
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: Suggested Citation