In the U.S., preterm birth disproportionately impacts certain racial/ethnic groups, with Black women experiencing preterm birth at a rate 50% higher than other groups. Among the numerous factors that likely contribute to these increased rates are neighborhood characteristics, such as food environment. In this mixed-methods case study, we evaluated how pregnant women living in a predominately minority, lower income community with high preterm birth rates navigate and perceive their food environment. Qualitative interviews were performed to assess perceptions of food environment (n = 7) along with geographic and observational assessments of their food environment. Participants traveled an average of 2.10 miles (SD = 1.16) and shopped at an average of 3 stores. They emphasized the importance of pricing and convenience when considering where to shop and asserted that they sought out healthier foods they thought would enhance their pregnancy health. Observational assessments of stores’ nutrition environment showed that stores with lower nutritional scores were in neighborhoods with greater poverty and a higher percent Black population. Future policies and programmatic efforts should focus on improving nutrition during pregnancy for women living in communities with high rates of poor birth outcomes. Availability, affordability, and accessibility are key aspects of the food environment to consider when attempting to achieve birth equity.
Evenosky, Sarah; Lewis, Eleanor; and DiSantis, Katherine Isselmann, "A mixed methods case study of food shopping in a community with high infant mortality" (2021). College of Population Health Faculty Papers. Paper 133.
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