The Intersection of Neighborhood Racial Segregation, Poverty, and Urbanicity and Its Impact on Food Store Availability in the United States

Prev Med. 2014 Jan;58:33-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.10.010. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


Background: Food store availability may determine the quality of food consumed by residents. Neighborhood racial residential segregation, poverty, and urbanicity independently affect food store availability, but the interactions among them have not been studied.

Purpose: To examine availability of supermarkets, grocery stores, and convenience stores in US census tracts according to neighborhood racial/ethnic composition, poverty, and urbanicity.

Methods: Data from 2000 US Census and 2001 InfoUSA food store data were combined and multivariate negative binomial regression models employed.

Results: As neighborhood poverty increased, supermarket availability decreased and grocery and convenience stores increased, regardless of race/ethnicity. At equal levels of poverty, Black census tracts had the fewest supermarkets, White tracts had the most, and integrated tracts were intermediate. Hispanic census tracts had the most grocery stores at all levels of poverty. In rural census tracts, neither racial composition nor level of poverty predicted supermarket availability.

Conclusions: Neighborhood racial composition and neighborhood poverty are independently associated with food store availability. Poor predominantly Black neighborhoods face a double jeopardy with the most limited access to quality food and should be prioritized for interventions. These associations are not seen in rural areas which suggest that interventions should not be universal but developed locally.

Keywords: Concentrated poverty; Food store availability; Health disparity; Neighborhood; Racial residential segregation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Binomial Distribution
  • Censuses
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Food Industry / economics
  • Food Industry / standards*
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Racism / statistics & numerical data*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • United States
  • Urban Population*