Food deserts and nutritional risk in Paraguay.

Research paper by Meredith M Gartin

Indexed on: 28 Mar '12Published on: 28 Mar '12Published in: American Journal of Human Biology


The purpose of this case study in San Lorenzo, Paraguay is to identify a food desert in a developing context and to test if food deserts shape residential obesity risk. This article reviews some of the debate surrounding whether food deserts really exist; and, if so, what are the dietary implications of living in a food desert.The research is an exploratory/explanatory design. The author mapped the downtown food retail district and the neighborhood food environment to identify what stores/markets. The author assessed each type of food store using an adapted version of the Nutrition Environment Measure Survey for Stores (NEMS-S) for Paraguay. Body mass index and household characteristics were collected with 68 households in a small neighborhood; and, the author matched the NEMS-S scores to the store reported by households as their primary grocery store for regression tests.The results suggest that a tradeoff exists in the local food environment between food stores which negatively impact obesity risk for local residents. Exposure to this tradeoff appears to worsen as people live longer in the food desert. Thus, the results support the location of a food desert finding in Paraguay.The underlying factors of a food desert extend beyond food access to focus on the issues of justice. A way to improve upon future research to build scholarship on the relationship between deprivation and obesity requires that sample sizes are either large or representative of the population and that the research should be based on multiple neighborhood and city sites.