Corner Stores and Health Equity in Baltimore, MD: An Analysis Using the Healthy Food Availability Index, a poster by Liana Przygocki

Corner stores and health equity in Baltimore-1Liana Przygocki recently completed her Masters in Food Policy & Applied Nutrition at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition. In the winter of 2013, she worked with MFSMP on a GIS project to analyze the availability of healthy food in Baltimore city by mapping Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI) scores by Community Statistical Area, and compare health trends with HFAI trends. HFAI scores, which quantify the presence of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, low fat milk, whole wheat bread and lean meats, were collected by CLF in 2012.

There are 55 Community Statistical Areas (CSAs) in Baltimore City, as defined by the Planning Department, and represent clusters of recognizable neighborhoods. The City Health Department uses these geographic boundaries to analyze health outcomes, which are published annually in their Neighborhood Health Profiles. These profiles include demographic and socioeconomic data, as well as data on social determinants of health and health outcomes. The health section includes life expectancy, mortality and causes of death, and maternal and child health outcomes.

Liana’s poster analysis shows overlap of poor health outcomes with low HFAI scores. While the map does not delve deeper into causality, it indicates that there might be a relationship between the amount of healthy food available and poor health in the residents of those areas. A key recommendation is to further map and analyze other demographic factors with HFAI scores to examine if a causal relationship exists.