Florida Public Health Review


Food deserts are areas where people experience limited access to healthy and affordable food. People with limited access to affordable food have been shown to have higher rates of obesity and obesity-related, chronic diseases. The purpose of this study was to assess the availability and affordability of healthy foods in retail outlets of food deserts in Florida. Eighteen food deserts in two large metropolitan areas were assessed using the USDA Food Store Survey Instrument. Overall, stores within food deserts were missing 43.16% of food items and convenience stores were missing food items almost seven times more than supermarkets. Food items most often missing were fruits, vegetables and fresh meat. The average food prices in the food deserts were 36% higher than non-food deserts and the food basket cost was 33% higher than the reference cost allocated for SNAP benefits. The higher food costs further translated to almost three times the national average portion of income spent on food. This lack of availability and higher cost of healthy foods may be contributing to the hunger-obesity paradox and the health disparities seen among food insecure Floridians. Results of this research can be used to inform educational strategies, program development, and policy recommendations.