Measuring Food Deserts in NYC Low Income Neighborhoods


There has been growing interest in the environmental factors that contribute to poor health outcomes, particularly in areas where health disparities are pronounced. The locations of food deserts, or unhealthy food environments, correspond to areas with the highest proportions of African-American/Black residents, a population suffering from higher rates of many chronic conditions, including obesity and diabetes in our study area. This study seeks to enhance our understanding of the role of the neighborhood environment on residents’ health, by examining neighborhood food availability and access in low-income and wealthier neighborhoods of New York City. We documented the neighborhood food environment and areas we call ‘‘food deserts’’ by creating methodological innovations. We calculated the lowest scores within East and Central Harlem and North and Central Brooklyn—areas with the highest proportions of Black residents and the lowest median household incomes. By contrast, the most favorable food desert scores were on the Upper East Side, a predominantly white, middle and upper-income area.

Researchers: Cynthia Gordona, Marnie Purciel-Hill ,Nirupa R. Ghai ,Leslie Kaufman, Regina Graham, Gretchen Van Wye.

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