Neighborhood racial composition, neighborhood poverty, and the spatial accessibility of supermarkets in metropolitan Detroit

Am J Public Health. 2005 Apr;95(4):660-7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.042150.


Objectives: We evaluated the spatial accessibility of large "chain" supermarkets in relation to neighborhood racial composition and poverty.

Methods: We used a geographic information system to measure Manhattan block distance to the nearest supermarket for 869 neighborhoods (census tracts) in metropolitan Detroit. We constructed moving average spatial regression models to adjust for spatial autocorrelation and to test for the effect of modification of percentage African American and percentage poor on distance to the nearest supermarket.

Results: Distance to the nearest supermarket was similar among the least impoverished neighborhoods, regardless of racial composition. Among the most impoverished neighborhoods, however, neighborhoods in which African Americans resided were, on average, 1.1 miles further from the nearest supermarket than were White neighborhoods.

Conclusions: Racial residential segregation disproportionately places African Americans in more-impoverished neighborhoods in Detroit and consequently reduces access to supermarkets. However, supermarkets have opened or remained open close to middle-income neighborhoods that have transitioned from White to African American. Development of economically disadvantaged African American neighborhoods is critical to effectively prevent diet-related diseases among this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Food Industry*
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Humans
  • Population Density
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Urban Population