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The Relationship between Local Food Environment and Residents Diet

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Is there a relationship between Local Food Environment and Residents’ Diet in the prevention of Arteriosclerosis?

There is a close association between diet and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and birth defects. Arteriosclerosis is one of these diseases highly associated with cholesterol intake. Reports indicate that taking foods containing saturated fats increases the risk of getting arteriosclerosis. At the same time, consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the chances of one getting the disease. This paper argues that there is an association between the local food environment, and the residents’ diet hence affects the risk of arteriosclerosis.

In this study, participants were the population from the Arteriosclerosis Risk in Communities study in the period from 1993-1999. The participants were from Washington County, Forsyth County, Jackson City and Minneapolis. There were various reasons for the selection of these populations. First the data from the study were readily available from a large population sample with information on dietary intake. Secondly the population involved was from a diverse geographic area and contained people of varied economic, educational and racial classes. Thirdly, there was information on neighborhood differences on diet. The numbers of participants were 2392 Black Americans and 8231 White Americans.

The researchers used food frequency questionnaires to obtain the estimations of the intakes, the recommended foods and nutrients from the 10623 participants in the Arteriosclerosis Risk Communities study. They obtained the data on availability of recommended foods through the presence of supermarkets, food stores and full service restaurants. These were the main suppliers of food to the communities. They varied the local food environment by increasing the number of the food suppliers. They obtained the increases in the amount of food taken by the participants due to the presence of a local food environment by computing the daily intake of calories in saturated fats, and daily intake of cholesterol. Other variation factors considered were the level of education, the amount of income and the race.

Discussion

Arteriosclerosis is a heart disease that results from the clogging of blood vessels. The causal agent of the disease is high fat intake of fats. The disease is not transmissible, but it is common in families with a history of heart diseases. Intake of foods with low fat content, intake of vegetables and fruits is one of the prevention measures. There are a lot of recommendations outlined in the US for prevention of the disease. One of the measures is the availability of recommended foods in the vicinity of people.  There are several other factors associated with the disease. Age is one of the contributing factors. The risk of the disease seems to increase with old age. In addition, others associate it with an increased concentration of cortisol in the blood that results from long time stress. There is one school of thought that believes the disease is as a result of high intake of cholesterol. Another school believes that stress is the main cause of the disease. Various prevention measures have been stipulated depending on the school of thought.

The study found out that the local food environment influences the intake of the recommended food for prevention of Arteriosclerosis. An increase in the number of supermarkets, food stores and full service restaurants in the study area increased intake of recommended foods. The study made various assumptions. One of them is that the supermarkets provide all the recommended foods. Another limitation to the findings was the fact that it did not consider age. Apart from education, income and race, age among other factors is a determining factor in the choice of food. 

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