Connection between socioeconomic class and access to healthy food

Food Availability

Food availability refers to people's capacity to have easy access to and afford fresh and healthy foods such as low fat meat, vegetables, fish, fruits, and low fat dairy products. Social and economic variables are the primary drivers of health outcomes and have a substantial influence on health behaviors. The greater a community's or individual's social and economic status, the more frequent healthy behaviors are and the easier it is to adopt and maintain better behaviors. Those with poor socioeconomic position, on the other hand, find it difficult to adopt healthy behaviors. Income level, race, education, and wealth are the key factors that affect health outcomes.

Social Economic Factors


High income corresponds to gains in health and easy access to fresh and nutritious food. However, having a lot of money in itself does not lead to good health. Instead, money serves as a marker for an individual's relative position in the society. Individuals who are affluent in the society have superior access to supermarkets that offer high quality nutritious healthy food. On the other hand, low-income earners face various challenges in accessing health nutritious food. Their income allows them to live in substandard houses, which are found in unsafe environment. Moreover, there are either few or no grocery stores selling fresh products in such areas. The few available stores lack variety of goods and people end up purchasing food at high prices (White).

Most convenience stores like fast foods establishments are found in low-income areas and mostly sell packaged food that has high levels of refined sugar, more fat, and sodium. These products are frequently consumed since they are affordable. This makes it difficult for poor people to observe healthy eating since they are consuming the wrong products.

Most of low-income people have limited automobile access; they depend on taxis, friend's cars, or public transport to travel to neighboring supermarkets or grocery stores. This limits not only the rate of their trips to the stores but also the quantity of food they purchase. Moreover, those who manage to buy in bulk do not have places to store perishable foods hence losing its nutritious value with time (Murphy). Conversely, most rich people who live in inner city can not only make several trips to the grocery stores but also purchase the products in bulk.


Several states are facing challenges with accessing fresh and nutritious food. However, some areas have more access to fresh products than other communities do. Franco et al. conducted a research on the relationship between healthy foods accessibility and diet quality. The research compared two neighborhoods: Baltimore County and Baltimore City. According to the research, there was less fresh health y food for while black participants who lived in Baltimore city while white participants who lived in Baltimore County had plenty of the same.

According to Mari Gallgher Research & Consulting Group, Chicago city residents, who are predominantly African American, lack access to fresh and affordable nutritious food. In a typical African American setting, there are many fast food stores compared to grocery stores. Residents have to travel for long distance, roughly 0.59 miles to get any type of grocery store. Likewise, the number of supermarkets found in predominantly white areas was four times more than those found in black areas. Zenk carried out a similar research to evaluate the relationship between racial composition and accessibility to chain supermarkets, in Detroit. The research outcome indicates that African Americans in Chicago travel for long distances to access supermarket since they are miles away from the supermarkets. Moreover, very few people from black neighborhood owned cars, which made it difficult to access the supermarkets.


Levels of education play a big role in accessing fresh healthy food. First, when one is highly educated, the probability of getting a well-paying job is high. With a good job, one can afford to purchase fruits, vegetables, or other healthy products (Sifferlin). Moreover, one can afford to live in neighborhoods that are close to supermarkets and grocery stores, which are mostly preserves for the rich and wealthy. In addition, one can easily transit to the supermarkets if he stays miles away from the supermarkets since he can afford to pay a taxi or buy a car.

Likewise, highly educated people are rich with nutrition knowledge, which in turn leads to healthy dietary lifestyles. Various studies have been carried out on the connection between knowledge on nutrition and healthy conduct. Wardle, Parmenter, and Waller argue that educating people about a healthy diet which entails how to choose healthy food when shopping is vital in encouraging healthy lifestyle and should be incorporated in health campaigns. One way to encourage healthy eating is to introduce healthier options in learning institutions. This will encourage students to adapt the same lifestyle at their homes.

Sifferlin claims that The National Center for Health Statistics performed a similar research and came up with the various findings. First, families whose head had a greater education level experienced least incidences of obesity compared to families whose head had low level of education. In addition, highly educated women were less likely to obese likened to women with lower education. Notably, life expectancy for people with a bachelor's degree and above was longer than those with lower edification level.

Sanger-Katz claims that even after the supermarket and grocery stores were brought near the poor and least healthy neighborhood, it did not change the purchasing behavior of the locals. The author noted that although income levels could have an influence on accessing healthy foods, education levels has a much impact on how people purchase their food. College educated people opted for healthier products which was a contrast to less educated individuals. Therefore, promoting the health of individuals will not only require easier accessibility to fresh food stores but also providing knowledge on good dietary. Moreover, social networks may

Social Networks

We are naturally social beings and value other people's company most often. Interacting with others people especially peers has a great influence on our wellbeing and access to healthy foods. University of Minnesota asserts that community or social networks institute norms behavior. The relations that one has to the community influence her choice. In Christakis and Fowler book, "Connected", they find out that obese people will possibly prefer friends or social groups that were obese. Being in a social group where other people recently gained weight is connected to adoption of obesity-related peer deeds. Social gatherings also promote chances for people to involve in unhealthy or healthy activities. For example, church functions or weddings normally serve a diet that is rich in saturated sugars or fats, which is an inhibition to a healthy diet.

Works Cited

Christakis, Nicholas A., and James H. Fowler. Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. 1st ed., Little, Brown and Company, 2009.

Franco, M., et al. "Availability of healthy foods and dietary patterns: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 89, no. 3, 2009, pp. 897-904.

Mari Gallgher Research & Consulting Group. "Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in CHICAGO." Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group, 18 July 2006, Accessed 2 May 2017.

Murphy, Barb. "Living in a Food Desert: How Lack of Access to Healthy Foods Can Affect Public Health | Notes From NAP." Notes From NAP - Spotlighting the Books and Reports on Science, Engineering and Medicine from the National Academies Press, 25 Jan. 2011, Accessed 1 May 2017.

Sanger-Katz, Margot. "Giving the Poor Easy Access to Healthy Food Doesn't Mean They'll Buy It - The New York Times." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia, 8 May 2015, Accessed 2 May 2017.

Sifferlin, Alexandra. "CDC: Higher Income and Education Levels Linked To Better Health.", 16 May 2012, Accessed 2 May 2017.

University of Minnesota. "How Do Our Social Networks Affect Wellbeing? | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing." Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing, 2016, Accessed 2 May 2017.

Wardle, J., et al. "Nutrition knowledge and food intake." Appetite, vol. 34, no. 3, 2000, pp. 269-275.

White, Rebecca. "Examining the Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Access to Nutritional Food." pp. 114-117, Accessed 1 May 2017.

Zenk, Shannon N., et al. "Neighborhood Racial Composition, Neighborhood Poverty, and the Spatial Accessibility of Supermarkets in Metropolitan Detroit." American Journal of Public Health, vol. 95, no. 4, 2005, pp. 660-667.

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