Measuring Food Deserts: A Comparison of Models Measuring the Spatial Accessibility of Supermarkets in Portland, Oregon
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Food deserts are low-income, urban areas that have poor spatial access to supermarkets. To date, researchers have developed theories about the food desert phenomenon's public health and fiscal implications in the form of diet-related health problems and its impact on the efficiency of government transfer payments, like food stamps. Researchers have also devised a number of ways to measure the presence and severity of food deserts, though progress still needs to be made toward establishing reliable, practical and feasible food desert measures. Using geographic information systems (GIS), this study employs three measures of supermarket accessibility to determine the presence and severity of food deserts in Portland, Oregon. It also compares the sensitivity of the measures to changes in inputs with the goal of generating advice for planners about accurate, low-cost ways to measure supermarket access in their communities.