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J Urban Health. 2012 Jun;89(3):407-18. doi: 10.1007/s11524-011-9633-y.

Linking neighborhood characteristics to food insecurity in older adults: the role of perceived safety, social cohesion, and walkability.

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CUNY School of Public Health, New York, NY, USA.


Among the 14.6% of American households experiencing food insecurity, approximately 2 million are occupied by older adults. Food insecurity among older adults has been linked to poor health, lower cognitive function, and poor mental health outcomes. While evidence of the association between individual or household-level factors and food insecurity has been documented, the role of neighborhood-level factors is largely understudied. This study uses data from a representative sample of 1,870 New York City senior center participants in 2008 to investigate the relationship between three neighborhood-level factors (walkability, safety, and social cohesion) and food insecurity among the elderly. Issues relating to food security were measured by three separate outcome measures: whether the participant had a concern about having enough to eat this past month (concern about food security), whether the participant was unable to afford food during the past year (insufficient food intake related to financial resources), and whether the participant experienced hunger in the past year related to not being able to leave home (mobility-related food insufficiency). Unadjusted and adjusted logistic regression was performed for each measure of food insecurity. Results indicate that neighborhood walkability is an important correlate of mobility-related food insufficiency and concern about food insecurity, even after controlling the effects of other relevant factors.

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