Food Shopping Perceptions, Behaviors, and Ability to Purchase Healthful Food Items in the Lower Mississippi Delta

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Nutrition and Food Systems


Objective: To examine the agreement between perceptions, behaviors, and ability to purchase healthful food in the Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD). Design: A regional food store survey of healthful food options in supermarkets, small/medium stores, and convenience stores. Focus group discussions were conducted on shopping perceptions and behaviors. Setting: Counties in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Participants: Eighty-one LMD residents, 18-60+ years of age. Main Outcome Measure: Perceptions of healthful food and ability to acquire these food items across store types. Analysis: Focus group data were analyzed using thematic coding. Summary food store statistics were weighted, and estimates were constructed using SUDAAN 9. Data triangulation was achieved by comparing focus group findings with food availability data. Results: A majority (> 85%) of supermarkets had selected vegetables, breads, and cereals perceived as healthful, whereas availability was limited in small to medium grocery stores and convenience stores. Skim milk, perceived as healthful, was limited in all store types. Conclusions and Implications: Limited availability and perceived costs of healthful food in the LMD influenced purchasing behaviors. Attitudes and perceptions should be incorporated into intervention development to improve food choices in conjunction with increasing the availability of healthful food in the LMD.

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Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior





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