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Food deserts in Korea? A GIS analysis of food consumption patterns at sub-district level in Seoul using the KNHANES 2008-2012 data

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Background/objectives: The concept of "food deserts" has been widely used in Western countries as a framework to identify areas with constrained access to fresh and nutritious foods, providing guidelines for targeted nutrition and public health programs. Unlike the vast amount of literature on food deserts in a Western context, only a few studies have addressed the concept in an East Asian context, and none of them have investigated spatial patterns of unhealthy food consumption from a South Korean perspective.

Subjects/methods: We first evaluated the applicability of food deserts in a Korean setting and identified four Korean-specific unhealthy food consumption indicators, including insufficient food consumption due to financial difficulty, limited consumption of fruits and vegetables, excessive consumption of junk food, and excessive consumption of instant noodles. The KNHANES 2008-2012 data in Seoul were analyzed with stratified sampling weights to understand the trends and basic characteristics of these eating patterns in each category. GIS analyses were then conducted for the data spatially aggregated at the sub-district level in order to create maps identifying areas of concern regarding each of these indicators and their combinations.

Results: Despite significant reduction in the rate of food insufficiency due to financial difficulty, the rates of excessive consumption of unhealthy foods (junk food and instant noodles) as well as limited consumption of fruits and vegetables have increased or remained high. These patterns tend to be found among relatively younger and more educated groups, regardless of income status.

Conclusions: A GIS-based analysis demonstrated several hotspots as potential "food deserts" tailored to the Korean context based on the observed spatial patterns of undesirable food consumption. These findings could be used as a guide to prioritize areas for targeted intervention programs to facilitate healthy food consumption behaviors and thus improve nutrition and food-related health outcomes.

No MeSH data available.


Trends in unhealthy food consumption patterns in Seoul (2008-2012)
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Figure 1: Trends in unhealthy food consumption patterns in Seoul (2008-2012)

Mentions: Fig. 1 shows temporal patterns of the four unhealthy food consumption indicators in Seoul, including the rates of food insufficiency due to financial difficulty, limited consumption of fruits and vegetables, excessive consumption of junk food, and excessive consumption of instant noodles. It is evident that the proportion of people consuming insufficient amounts of food due to household financial hardship remarkably decreased over time (from 10% to 2.5%), whereas a growing percentage of people in Seoul consumed limited amounts of fruits and vegetables less than once per day (from 7% to 13%). Rates of excessive consumption (at least twice per week) of junk food (including hamburgers, pizza, and soda) and instant noodles remained at a high level between 13% and 19%. This trend may indicate that socio-behavioral factors, possibly influenced by neighborhood food environments, play a more critical role than financial barriers in determining unhealthy food consumption patterns in Seoul.


Food deserts in Korea? A GIS analysis of food consumption patterns at sub-district level in Seoul using the KNHANES 2008-2012 data
Trends in unhealthy food consumption patterns in Seoul (2008-2012)
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5037071&req=5

Figure 1: Trends in unhealthy food consumption patterns in Seoul (2008-2012)
Mentions: Fig. 1 shows temporal patterns of the four unhealthy food consumption indicators in Seoul, including the rates of food insufficiency due to financial difficulty, limited consumption of fruits and vegetables, excessive consumption of junk food, and excessive consumption of instant noodles. It is evident that the proportion of people consuming insufficient amounts of food due to household financial hardship remarkably decreased over time (from 10% to 2.5%), whereas a growing percentage of people in Seoul consumed limited amounts of fruits and vegetables less than once per day (from 7% to 13%). Rates of excessive consumption (at least twice per week) of junk food (including hamburgers, pizza, and soda) and instant noodles remained at a high level between 13% and 19%. This trend may indicate that socio-behavioral factors, possibly influenced by neighborhood food environments, play a more critical role than financial barriers in determining unhealthy food consumption patterns in Seoul.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Background/objectives: The concept of "food deserts" has been widely used in Western countries as a framework to identify areas with constrained access to fresh and nutritious foods, providing guidelines for targeted nutrition and public health programs. Unlike the vast amount of literature on food deserts in a Western context, only a few studies have addressed the concept in an East Asian context, and none of them have investigated spatial patterns of unhealthy food consumption from a South Korean perspective.

Subjects/methods: We first evaluated the applicability of food deserts in a Korean setting and identified four Korean-specific unhealthy food consumption indicators, including insufficient food consumption due to financial difficulty, limited consumption of fruits and vegetables, excessive consumption of junk food, and excessive consumption of instant noodles. The KNHANES 2008-2012 data in Seoul were analyzed with stratified sampling weights to understand the trends and basic characteristics of these eating patterns in each category. GIS analyses were then conducted for the data spatially aggregated at the sub-district level in order to create maps identifying areas of concern regarding each of these indicators and their combinations.

Results: Despite significant reduction in the rate of food insufficiency due to financial difficulty, the rates of excessive consumption of unhealthy foods (junk food and instant noodles) as well as limited consumption of fruits and vegetables have increased or remained high. These patterns tend to be found among relatively younger and more educated groups, regardless of income status.

Conclusions: A GIS-based analysis demonstrated several hotspots as potential "food deserts" tailored to the Korean context based on the observed spatial patterns of undesirable food consumption. These findings could be used as a guide to prioritize areas for targeted intervention programs to facilitate healthy food consumption behaviors and thus improve nutrition and food-related health outcomes.

No MeSH data available.