The Relationship of Lack of Access to Affordable and Healthy Foods and Obesity Rates in Tennessee Adults and Children

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Roberson, Kristi
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Middle Tennessee State University
This research explores how obesity rates correspond to the percentage of a county’s population living in food deserts. Archival data were used from the Food Desert Locator of United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, the 2010 CDC’s data of obesity rates per Tennessee county, the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 population data, and the Tennessee Coordinated School Health Childhood Obesity Rates by County Data of 2008-2009. Results indicated that the sample with 61 counties was best suited to test the hypotheses as the data were similar for theses counties and would not drastically skew the results. The percentages of the populations living in food deserts were significantly correlated to obesity rates. There was no moderation, but percentages of households without a vehicle and population with at least a bachelor’s degree were significant predictors of adult and childhood obesity rates. The percentage of
non-Hispanic white population was a significant predictor of adult obesity. Meanwhile, population living in urban food deserts and childhood poverty rate were significant predictors of childhood obesity. These findings suggest that at the county level, the resources available to the population may influence obesity rates.