Food Insecurity and Health Outcomes: The relationship Between Food Access and Type 2 Diabetes in Detroit, MI.

Academic Blog by: Julissa Hernandez

JulissaHello my name is Julissa Hernandez and I am a third year studying Spanish and Gender & Health. This topic is important to me because I grew up in Detroit and many people in my family have health problems stemming from their diets.

Being diagnosed with a chronic disease is hard, especially when you have no control over the options given to you in your environment. Food insecurity in Detroit Michigan is a problem to the current residents as well as the future population, this is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Almost half of the population in Detroit are food insecure and enrolled in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), another eighteen percent of household who qualify for SNAP are not receiving benefits. Considering that fifty percent of WIC stores are liquor stores shows us where and what kind of food is readily available.

With the current diet trend of being vegan/vegetarian/plant based/gluten free it is being presented to folks as an easy and manageable diet if you want to transform your diet and lifestyle. Almost forty percent of the population is considered obese and fourteen percent have been diagnosed with type two diabetes. Studies have shown that with proper and balanced diet and exercise then it is possible for the disease to be reversed and prevented among people who are down the chronic disease path. But without the correct environment, one that allows the community to feel safe about going outside to do physical activity, there is no promotion of exercise if you can not feel safe in your own neighborhood. Without economically conscious grocery stores, full of reliable quality nutritious food, it is difficult for residents to buy healthy food that falls under the SNAP benefits. Transportation is another factor to think about, more than sixty percent of Detroit residents do not have reliable transportation which affects how far someone would travel to buy food for their household.

The city of Detroit has slowly been gentrified, Cass Corridor, one of the poorest corridors in Detroit recently has been turned into a whole new city and displaced many native Detroiters along with increasing the prices on affordable living for new residents entering the city. There in the middle of poverty and riches, a Whole Foods grocery has been built, ignoring the fact that most of the population has a low socioeconomic status and that they are receiving WIC benefits. Whole foods hiked up grocery prices do not help the health disparity of the population that is diagnosed with type two diabetes, their prices are out of budget with most households.

Culture plays a huge role in what people are accustomed to eating and making. It is shown that African Americans and Latinos have high levels of cholesterol, obesity and type two diabetes. I think the city of Detroit needs to create a larger focus for their residents' diet and exercise, allowing them to take control of what fuels their bodies and not restricting residents to a certain variety of foods and stores. Although the city of Detroit has many initiatives helping, we need to find a more sustainable way of getting the residents of Detroit the healthy and reliable foods they deserve.