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J Hunger Environ Nutr. 2009 Jul;4(3-4):282-314. Epub 2009 Dec 11.

Food Systems and Public Health Disparities.

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  • 1Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


The United States has set a national goal to eliminate health disparities. This article emphasizes the importance of food systems in generating and exacerbating health disparities in the United States and suggests avenues for reducing them. It presents a conceptual model showing how broad food system conditions interplay with community food environments-and how these relationships are filtered and refracted through prisms of social disparities to generate and exacerbate health disparities. Interactions with demand factors in the social environment are described. The article also highlights the separate food systems pathway to health disparities via environmental and occupational health effects of agriculture.

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