I recently began identifying sources of fresh vegetables and fruits to better understand the conditions of food insecurity that lead to health related consequences in communities across Oklahoma. With the help of graduate students Chase Phillips and Camila Prado as well as undergraduate research fellow Ana Mohammad-Zadeh.
Rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related illnesses continue to rise, creating opportunities for planners and policy makers to shape the built environment in ways that enhance, rather than inhibit, the ability of local residents to access healthier food and make wiser choices about well being.
Unfortunately, evidence continues to suggest that vulnerable communities are often without access to these components of a healthy diet. In the United States, disparities in access are frequently heightened in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Additionally, other economic, social, and physical aspects of the neighborhood often disadvantage residents in these neighborhoods, further decreasing the likelihood that components of a healthy diet are available and exacerbating health related disabilities such as hunger, diabetes, obesity, and risk of heart attack or stroke.
I hope my efforts help planners and public health professionals are better able to identify the spatial, social, and ecological processes that influence food availability as a means of crafting land use policy that enhances local nutritional environments.