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Impact of Racialized Neighborhoods on Public Health

Kari L Karsjens, JD, Resident and Fellow Services, American Medical Association, 515 N. State Street, 14th floor, Chicago, IL 60610, 3124644743, kari_karsjens@sbcglobal.net and McKenzie W Smith, MPH, MEd, Public Health, American Medical Association, 515 N. State Street, 8th floor, Chicago, IL 60610.

This session discusses the role and impact of racialized neighborhoods in promoting the obesity epidemic. The session discusses interrelated issues to increase awareness and understanding using a major metropolitan city as a case study. The session concludes with analysis and discussion of various advocacy efforts in health disparities and public health to evaluate, target, and educate on the relationship between environment, race, and obesity.

Research has indicated a causal relationship between neighborhood safety and positive public health outcomes. (Wilcox S. J Gerontol B Psych Sci Soc Sci 2003; 58(6): 329-37). A sedentary lifestyle is characterized by food choices, availability of recreational activities, and access to health care. In racialized neighborhoods, such as urban and low-income settings, there is often a lack of available safe spaces for people to be active such as fewer maintained parks and recreation centers. Besides physical environment, there is a prevalence of inexpensive and unhealthy food alternatives for such residents; thus, food choice and selection for healthy eating is significantly impeded. Research indicates poor and minority communities have unequal access to a variety of foods due to decreased numbers of supermarkets and food stores which offer healthy food alternatives. (Morland K, Wing S, Roux AD, Poole, C. Neighborhood Characteristics Associated with the Location of Food Stores and Food Service Plans. Am J Prev Med 2002; 22(1):23-29). Further, most racialized neighborhoods have an abundance of fast food restaurants that do not offer healthy alternatives to the low-cost hamburger and French fries.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Obesity, Minorities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: American Medical Association - Public Health Section
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Obesity, Diabetes and Nutrition: Addressing Lifestyles and Environmental Issues

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA