Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



Objective- The purpose of this study was to explore the association of food access, and availability, on prevalence of diabetes and obesity in Ohio census tracts designated as food deserts.

Methods- County and census tract-level data were combined from the USDA Food Environment Atlas and USDA Food Desert Locator respectively. Statistical analysis was conducted using IBM Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Non-normally distributed variables were assessed using the Mann-Whitney nonparametric U-test and Spearman’s correlation coefficient. Significance was considered at the p

Results- The mean rate of obesity and diabetes in Ohio in food deserts are 29.5% and 10.7%, when compared to Ohio (29.2%, 10.7%) rates, and US rates (35.7%, 8.3%), respectively. No significant difference was found in the mean percentages of the population with diabetes in rural versus urban communities. Rural communities were found to have a significantly higher rate of obesity. Supercenters and convenience stores without gas were found to be directly related to the incidence of diabetes in the overall observed population. Convenience stores with no gas, fast food restaurants and recreational facilities were found to be negatively correlated to the percentage of the population comprised of African Americans. Poverty had a strong influence in the African American population. Low poverty communities were found to have nearly twice as many farmers’ markets as communities with a high poverty level.

Conclusion- This study concludes that the accessibility of supermarkets and club stores were correlated to the number of cases of obesity, as was the number of convenience stores with gas, and farmers; markets. Future research should highlight the association of food deserts and diabetes. Futures studies should also feature analysis of data collected on an individual level.