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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(12), 15058-15074; doi:10.3390/ijerph121214965

Healthy versus Unhealthy Suppliers in Food Desert Neighborhoods: A Network Analysis of Corner Stores’ Food Supplier Networks

1
Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
2
Center for Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sara Kirk, Jessie-Lee Mclsaac and Tarra Penney
Received: 19 October 2015 / Revised: 11 November 2015 / Accepted: 16 November 2015 / Published: 30 November 2015
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Abstract

Background: Products in corner stores may be affected by the network of suppliers from which storeowners procure food and beverages. To date, this supplier network has not been well characterized. Methods: Using network analysis, we examined the connections between corner stores (n = 24) in food deserts of Baltimore City (MD, USA) and their food/beverage suppliers (n = 42), to determine how different store and supplier characteristics correlated. Results: Food and beverage suppliers fell into two categories: Those providing primarily healthy foods/beverages (n = 15) in the healthy supplier network (HSN) and those providing primarily unhealthy food/beverages (n = 41) in the unhealthy supplier network (UHSN). Corner store connections to suppliers in the UHSN were nearly two times greater (t = 5.23, p < 0.001), and key suppliers in the UHSN core were more diverse, compared to the HSN. The UHSN was significantly more cohesive and densely connected, with corner stores sharing a greater number of the same unhealthy suppliers, compared to HSN, which was less cohesive and sparsely connected (t = 5.82; p < 0.001). Compared to African Americans, Asian and Hispanic corner storeowners had on average −1.53 (p < 0.001) fewer connections to suppliers in the HSN (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Our findings indicate clear differences between corner stores’ HSN and UHSN. Addressing ethnic/cultural differences of storeowners may also be important to consider. View Full-Text
Keywords: food supply; obesity; healthy food availability; network analysis; corner store; food deserts; urban health; food environment food supply; obesity; healthy food availability; network analysis; corner store; food deserts; urban health; food environment
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Mui, Y.; Lee, B.Y.; Adam, A.; Kharmats, A.Y.; Budd, N.; Nau, C.; Gittelsohn, J. Healthy versus Unhealthy Suppliers in Food Desert Neighborhoods: A Network Analysis of Corner Stores’ Food Supplier Networks. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 15058-15074.

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