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K-State Today

November 12, 2015

Sociologists publish study on healthy food availability in Topeka

Submitted by Gerad Middendorf

Michael Miller, doctoral student; Gerad Middendorf, professor of sociology, anthropology and social work; and Spencer D. Wood, associate professor of sociology, anthropology and social work; recently published the article "Food Availability in the Heartland: Exploring the Effects of Neighborhood Racial and Income Composition" in the journal Rural Sociology.

The study examines the relationships between neighborhood racial and income composition and healthy food availability. It explores the extent to which physical and social isolation affects healthy food availability for groups marginalized by race and class.

The authors used census tract data and five-year estimates from the American Community Survey to produce maps illustrating the patterns of race and income composition in Topeka, Kansas. Included in these maps are data points illustrating the distribution of stores offering healthy foods.

The study finds that, as in the larger metro areas analyzed in the literature thus far, the distribution of healthy food stores in Topeka is similarly patterned. Neighborhoods that have a higher concentration of black and poorer households tend to have the lowest levels of healthy food availability.

The article was based on Miller's master's thesis at Kansas State University in 2012.

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