A longitudinal assessment of racial and ethnic inequities in food environment exposure and retail market concentration.

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DOI: 10.1017/S1368980023001179


OBJECTIVE: This paper assesses trends in food environment and market concentration and racial and ethnic inequities in food environment exposure and food retail market concentration at the US census tract level from 2000 to 2019.

DESIGN: Establishment-level data from the National Establishment Time Series were used to measure food environment exposure and food retail market concentration. We linked that dataset to race, ethnicity and social vulnerability information from the American Community Survey and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. A geospatial hot-spot analysis was conducted to identify relatively low and high healthy food access clusters based on the modified Retail Food Environment Index (mRFEI). The associations were assessed using two-way fixed effects regression models.

SETTING: Census tracts spanning all US states.

PARTICIPANTS: 69 904 US census tracts.

RESULTS: The geospatial analysis revealed clear patterns of areas with high and low mRFEI values. Our empirical findings point to disparities in food environment exposure and market concentration by race. The analysis shows that Asian Americans are likelier to live in neighbourhoods with a low food environment exposure and low retail market concentration. These adverse effects are more pronounced in metro areas. The robustness analysis for the social vulnerability index confirms these results.

CONCLUSION: US food policies must address disparities in neighbourhood food environments and foster a healthy, profitable, equitable and sustainable food system. Our findings may inform equity-oriented neighbourhood, land use and food systems planning. Identifying priority areas for investment and policy interventions is essential for equity-oriented neighbourhood planning.

Journal Title

Public health nutrition





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Commerce; Ethnicity; Marketing; Food; Residence Characteristics


Food environment exposure; Food retail market concentration; Longitudinal analysis; Racial and ethnic inequities

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