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Food desert versus food oasis: An exploration of residents' perceptions of factors influencing food buying practices

Walker, Renee Erin (2009) Food desert versus food oasis: An exploration of residents' perceptions of factors influencing food buying practices. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Utilizing concept mapping, the primary goal of this dissertation research was to explore the range of factors that influence food buying practices. A total of twenty five participants from two low-income zip codes in Pittsburgh, PA completed the concept mapping process. The participants were recruited based on residential proximity to a supermarket. This dissertation is organized around the presentation of three manuscripts. The first manuscript presents an exhaustive review of the literature related to food deserts. The research presented in manuscript two identified perceptions of factors influencing food buying practices among residents of an urban food desert (n=12) compared to a food oasis (n=13). Results identified 121 unique statements that were grouped by participants into 12 clusters, or unique concepts. Analyses show that overall, the average cluster ratings for residents of the food desert were higher than residents of the food oasis. Research presented in manuscript three addressed how residents' perceptions of factors influencing food buying practices differ by food security status. Findings show that food insecure participants rated clusters higher than food secure participants. A secondary aim was to explore how important these factors are to hindering healthy eating based on food desert and food security statuses. Overall, cluster rankings were similar for food secure participants in a food desert and food secure participants in a food oasis. However, participants in the food desert rated all of the clusters higher than participants in the food oasis. In comparing food insecure participants in a food desert to a food oasis, findings show that although cluster rankings were different, average cluster ratings were similar. The public health significance of this study is that it contributes to our understanding of factors that influence food buying practices based on neighborhood and individual-level characteristics, an area that has received limited consideration. Based on findings from this research, areas for future research, and policy and program development have been uncovered to address the lack of access to healthy foods for urban residents of low-income areas.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Walker, Renee
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBurke, Jessica G.jgburke@pitt.eduJGBURKE
Committee MemberKriska, Andreaaky@pitt.eduAKY
Committee MemberKeane, Christophercrkcity@pitt.eduCRKCITY
Committee MemberFryer, Craigcsf5@pitt.eduCSF5
Committee MemberButler, Jamesjbutler9@pitt.eduJBUTLER9
Date: 28 September 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 16 June 2009
Approval Date: 28 September 2009
Submission Date: 7 June 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: DrPH - Doctor of Public Health
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: concept mapping; food buying practices; food desert; food security; low-income; urban
Other ID:, etd-06072009-082158
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:46
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:44


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