Building Food Justice in Los Angeles Through Community-Based Participatory Research
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The social and built environments affect food consumption patterns that influence public health. Overweight is a major public health problem nationally, and specifically among youth in Los Angeles, California. A recent study in California found the prevalence of overweight higher among African American and Latino youth, 28.7% and 35.4%, respectively, compared with 20.6% among white youth. Such health disparities may arise when environmental factors make it difficult to access and afford healthy foods. To further understand and improve upon the food environment in low-income, communities of color, a community-based participatory research project addressing local food environments was undertaken in three Los Angeles neighborhoods. To document the availability and affordability of foods, community-based groups were trained and participated in a community food assessment. Participants 1) mapped the number and type of food stores and restaurants in the project areas; 2) conducted an in-depth survey of stores for product availability, pricing, and quality; and 3) surveyed 5 participating schools to examine the school food environment. Participants documented a total of 1,273 food establishments in the three neighborhoods. The most prevalent food establishments were convenience/liquor stores, fast-food restaurants, carryout restaurants, and full-service restaurants. Full-service supermarkets comprised < 3% of the total number of food stores/restaurants. Following the completion of community food assessments, participating community members will brainstorm and prioritize action strategies for improving food environments. This presentation will include an overview of food assessment results and a preliminary report on the action strategies in progress.