University of Tasmania

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Spatial analysis of access to healthy food in a rural area of Australia

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 13:27 authored by Le, Q

Objectives: There has been research evidence to prove that geographic access to healthy food has an impact on healthy food purchases and consumption of the population. Populations in rural and remote areas are frequently reported to have poor access to healthy food. To address this geographical aspect of the food environment, this study aimed to quantify and visualise geographic access to healthy food; compare areas of different socio‐economic disadvantages in terms of geographic access to healthy food; and determine the existence/non‐existence of food deserts in the municipality of Dorset, Tasmania, Australia.

Methods: A Geographical Information System (GIS) using ArcGIS tool was adopted to implement three types of spatial analysis (coverage, density and proximity) to examine the geographical access to healthy food in Dorset. Data on food outlets were collected using the Food Outlet Audit tool and aggregated socioeconomic disadvantage index, locations, and population information. Spatial correlation was conducted where appropriate to inspect the relationship between locations and food access.

Results and discussion: The healthy food outlets were clustered in the central areas (Map 1), areas in proximity to the national road (Map 3), areas of dense populations (Map 2), and areas of higher disadvantaged level (Map 4). Healthy food outlets in Dorset tended to vary by area socio‐economic status, favouring the more socio‐economically deprived areas (Moran’s Index=0.924; z‐score=5.187; p‐value=0.00<0.05). The spatial identification of food deserts in Dorset has been a pioneering attempt to visualise areas with the highest demand for improving healthy food access.

Conclusion: The findings contribute to better understanding about food access and where they are found in relation to the spatial distribution of socio‐economic disadvantage in Dorset. These results may be related to areas with similar characteristics and offer a useful reference for policy making and strategy building related to the promotion of access to healthy food.



School of Health Sciences

Event title

20th International Epidemiology Association World Congress of Epidemiology

Event Venue

Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

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Evaluation of health and support services not elsewhere classified

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