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Sharkey J.R.,Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities | Sharkey J.R.,Texas College | Johnson C.M.,Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities | Dean W.R.,Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities
BMC Geriatrics | Year: 2010

Background. Although the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption to health has been well established, few studies have focused on access to fruits and vegetables in rural areas; even fewer examined the relationship between food access and fruit and vegetable consumption among seniors. Methods. To examine the spatial challenges to good nutrition faced by seniors who reside in rural areas and how spatial access influences fruit and vegetable intake. A cross-sectional analysis using data from the 2006 Brazos Valley Health Assessment (mailsurvey) for 582 rural seniors (60-90 years), who were recruited by random digit dialing; food store data from the 2006-2007 Brazos Valley Food Environment Project that used ground-truthed methods to identify, geocode, and inventory fruit and vegetables in all food stores. Results. Few of the BVHA seniors consumed the recommended intakes of fruits or vegetables; women consumed more servings of fruit (1.49 0.05 vs. 1.29 0.07, p = 0.02), similar servings of vegetables (2.18 0.04 vs. 2.09 0.07, p = 0.28), and more combined fruit and vegetables (3.67 0.08 vs. 3.38 0.12, p = 0.04) than men. The median distances to fresh fruit and vegetables were 5.5 miles and 6.4 miles, respectively. When canned and frozen fruit and vegetables were included in the measurement of overall fruit or vegetables, the median distance for a good selection of fruit or vegetables decreased to 3.4 miles for overall fruit and 3.2 miles for overall vegetables. Almost 14% reported that food supplies did not last and there was not enough money to buy more. Our analyses revealed that objective and perceived measures of food store access - increased distance to the nearest supermarket, food store with a good variety of fresh and processed fruit, or food store with a good variety of fresh and processed vegetables - were associated with decreased daily consumption of fruit, vegetables, and combined fruit and vegetables, after controlling for the influence of individual characteristics and perceptions of community and home food resources. Conclusions. Findings suggest that interventions designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among rural seniors should consider strategies to ameliorate differential access to healthy food due to food store distance. © 2010 Sharkey et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Sharkey J.R.,Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities | Sharkey J.R.,Texas College | Dean W.R.,Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities | Dean W.R.,Texas College | And 2 more authors.
International Journal for Equity in Health | Year: 2011

Background: Food insecurity is a critical problem in the United States and throughout the world. There is little published data that provides insights regarding the extent and severity of food insecurity among the hard-to-reach Mexican-origin families who reside in the growing colonias along the Texas border with Mexico. Considering that culture, economics, and elements of the environment may increase the risk for food insecurity and adverse health outcomes, the purpose of this study was to examine the relation between household and community characteristics and food insecurity. Methods. The study used data from the 2009 Colonia Household and Community Food Resource Assessment (C-HCFRA). The data included 610 face-to-face interviews conducted in Spanish by promotoras (indigenous community health workers) in forty-four randomly-identified colonias near the towns of Progreso and La Feria in Hidalgo and Cameron counties along the Texas border with Mexico. C-HCFRA included demographic characteristics, health characteristics, food access and mobility, food cost, federal and community food and nutrition assistance programs, perceived quality of the food environment, food security, eating behaviors, and alternative food sources. Results: 78% of participants experienced food insecurity at the level of household, adult, or child. The most severe - child food insecurity was reported by 49% of all households and 61.8% of households with children. Increasing levels of food insecurity was associated with being born in Mexico, increasing household composition, decreasing household income, and employment. Participation in federal food assistance programs was associated with reduced severity of food insecurity. Greater distance to their food store and perceived quality of the community food environment increased the odds for food insecurity. Conclusions: The Mexican-origin population is rapidly expanding; record numbers of individuals and families are experiencing food insecurity; and for those living in rural or underserved areas such as the colonias, the worst forms of food insecurity are an ongoing reality. The rates of households with adult and child food insecurity in this border area are alarming and among the highest reported. Clearly, systematic and sustained action on federal, state, and community levels is needed to reduce household, adult, and child food insecurity that integrates cultural tailoring of interventions and programs to address food and management skills, multi-sector partnerships and networks, expansion of food and nutrition assistance programs, and enhanced research efforts. © 2011 Sharkey et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Dean W.R.,Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities | Sharkey J.R.,Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities | Johnson C.M.,Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities | Johnson C.M.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | John J.S.,Texas A&M University
International Journal for Equity in Health | Year: 2012

Introduction: Mexican-origin women in the U.S. living in colonias (new-destination Mexican-immigrant communities) along the Texas-Mexico border suffer from a high incidence of food insecurity and diet-related chronic disease. Understanding environmental factors that influence food-related behaviors among this population will be important to improving the well-being of colonia households. This article focuses on cultural repertoires that enable food choice and the everyday uses of technology in food-related practice by Mexican-immigrant women in colonia households under conditions of material hardship. Findings are presented within a conceptual framework informed by concepts drawn from sociological accounts of technology, food choice, culture, and material hardship. Methods: Field notes were provided by teams of promotora-researchers (indigenous community health workers) and public-health professionals trained as participant observers. They conducted observations on three separate occasions (two half-days during the week and one weekend day) within eight family residences located in colonias near the towns of Alton and San Carlos, Texas. English observations were coded inductively and early observations stressed the importance of technology and material hardship in food-related behavior. These observations were further explored and coded using the qualitative data package Atlas.ti. Results: Technology included kitchen implements used in standard and adapted configurations and household infrastructure. Residents employed tools across a range of food-related activities identified as forms of food acquisition, storage, preparation, serving, feeding and eating, cleaning, and waste processing. Material hardships included the quality, quantity, acceptability, and uncertainty dimensions of food insecurity, and insufficient consumption of housing, clothing and medical care. Cultural repertoires for coping with material hardship included reliance on inexpensive staple foods and dishes, and conventional and innovative technological practices. These repertoires expressed the creative agency of women colonia residents. Food-related practices were constrained by climate, animal and insect pests, women's gender roles, limitations in neighborhood and household infrastructure, and economic and material resources. Conclusions: This research points to the importance of socioeconomic and structural factors such as gender roles, economic poverty and material hardship as constraints on food choice and food-related behavior. In turn, it emphasizes the innovative practices employed by women residents of colonias to prepare meals under these constraints. © 2012 Dean et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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