260405 Access to Affordable, Healthy Foods in Nashville's Food Deserts: A Sustainable, Social Enterprise Model to Combat Obesity

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 11:30 AM - 11:50 AM

Alexandra Ernst, BA, MPH Candidate , Vanderbilt University Center for Community Health Solutions, The Nashville Mobile Market, Nashville, TN
Ravi Patel, BA , Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN
The obesity epidemic, while posing a substantial public health threat to the entire country, disproportionately impacts the Southeastern United States; 8 of the 9 most overweight states are found in this region. In 2011, 32% of Tennesseans were obese and another 36% were overweight. Although rural areas historically exhibit higher obesity rates than urban areas, Nashville and Davidson County contradict that trend; Davidson County's obese population grew by 18% from 2004 to 2008. In examining Nashville's epidemic, we found that obesity, diabetes, and hypertension rates are growing fastest in low-income areas with poor physical access to grocery stores. These “food deserts” present significant challenges to reversing growing obesity rates. For example, we found that 50% of South Nashville residents travel two hours round-trip to the closest major fresh foods source, primarily relying on public transportation. In addition to geographic and time barriers, residents lack the necessary funds for transportation and healthy food purchases. The Nashville Mobile Market opened in February 2011 to provide healthy food at low costs through a mobile grocery vending option; an overarching objective is to assess this model's feasibility as an obesity intervention in food deserts. The Mobile Market seeks to complement its healthy food provision with nutrition education. Data collected and analyzed thus far shows sufficient market demand for this to be a sustainable model as well as for these neighborhoods to attract a full-service grocery store. Health impacts will require longer-term evaluation, but preliminary surveys show measurable nutrition improvements since Mobile Market operations began.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Define the need for action to be taken in the wake of the Southeastern United States' obesity epidemic. Assess the barriers to healthy food access in low-income neighborhoods in Nashville, TN. Demonstrate the potential of a mobile grocery store as a community intervention to improve nutrition and combat obesity.

Keywords: Community Health, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As the principal lead on multiple funded grants, I oversaw design, development, implementation, and sustainability focusing on obesity interventions and preventative health programs. I was the Executive Director of the non-profit and monitored the program and its corresponding objectives and outcomes during that time. As a current MPH candidate, my scientific research interests have been community-based program design and implementation of preventative health interventions.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
The Nashville Mobile Market Food Security Employment (includes retainer)

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.