Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Updated Estimates of Distance to Supermarkets Using 2010 Data

Efforts to encourage Americans to improve their diets and to eat more nutritious foods presume that a wide variety of these foods are accessible to everyone. But for some Americans and in some communities, access to healthy foods may be limited. This report updates population estimates of indicators of spatial access to healthy and affordable foods in the United States using population data from the 2010 Census, income and vehicle avail- ability data from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey, and a 2010 directory of supermarkets. Spatial access to healthy and affordable food is proxied by measuring the distance to the nearest supermarket for the overall U.S. population and for subpopulations including households without vehicles, populations with low incomes, and populations that live in low-income areas. These updated data reflect recent changes in population characteristics, the economy, and the location of supermarkets. An estimated 9.7 percent of the total population, or 29.7 million people, live in low-income areas more than 1 mile from a supermarket. However, most households that are far from a supermarket have vehicles: only 1.8 percent of all households (2.1 million households) live more than 1 mile from a super- market and do not have a vehicle. Estimated distance to the nearest three supermarkets is an indicator of the choices available to consumers and the level of competition among stores. Estimates show that half of the U.S. population lives within 2 miles of three supermarkets.

Issue Date:
Nov 01 2012
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Economic Research Report Number 143

 Record created 2017-08-22, last modified 2018-01-23

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