FUNDING SOURCE: National Institutes Health, National Cancer Institute (2013-2017)



Access to healthy food is associated with food choices, shopping habits, diet quality and health outcomes.  Residents of high-poverty communities often find it challenging to afford and and purchase healthy foods and may have higher intake of fast foods, convenience foods and snack foods.  Both access issues and food preferences may affect dietary choices and health outcomes, such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.  Research in this area is evolving, and it is not known whether changes in the community food environment will result in better dietary intake and health status over time.  The study will take place in two South Carolina communities of high poverty with relatively lower access to supermarkets, deemed "food desert" areas according to the USDA definition. As part of this research, primary food shoppers will be interviewed at three points in time and complete a 24-hour dietary recall interview.  Interviews will assess shopping habits and locations, family food security, and receipt of nutrition assistance benefits, sources of food for the family,  and overall perceptions of the community food environment.  Geographic Information Systems and Global Positioning System technology will provide an objective picture of food outlets in relation to residences over the study period.  An extensive process evaluation will characterize the community context over time and assess community leaders' perspectives on food access.


Wilcox, S., Sharpe, P.A., Liese, A.D., Dunn, C.G., Hutto, B. (2018). Socioeconomic factors associated with diet quality and meeting dietary guidelines in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Southeast United States. Ethnicity and Health, 2018, 1-17.

Sharpe, P.A., Liese, A.D., Bell, B.A., Wilcox, S., Hutto, B.E., Stucker, J. (2018) Household food security and use of community food sources and food assistance programs among food shoppers in neighborhoods of low income and low food access. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, 13(4), 482-496.  Epub ahead of print October 2017.

Liese, A.D., Ma, X., Hutto, B., Sharpe, P.A., Bell, B.A., Wilcox, S. (2017).  Food shopping and acquisition behaviors in relation to BMI among residents of low-income communities in South Carolina. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,14(9), 1075. PMID: 28926937 

Ma, X., Liese, A.D., Hibbert, J., Bell, B.A., Wilcox, S., Sharpe, P.A. (2017). The association between food security and store-specific and overall food shopping behaviors.  Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 117 (12), 1931-1940. PMID: 28366811