Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 73

P06-052 - Current Health Behaviors and Barriers to Healthy Eating and Physical Activity and Identifying Resources to Promote Health Among Food Pantry Users

Monday, Jun 11
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the health status, dietary and physical activity (PA) habits, and barriers to engaging in healthy behaviors while identifying key resources and programs needed to enhance the health of food pantry users.

This was a cross sectional study utilizing quantitative and qualitative methods. Biometric screenings including body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and blood pressure were collected. Participants completed a survey which included questions assessing current dietary and PA habits, disease status, access to health care, frequency of health care visits, and other demographic information. Focus groups were conducted to further assess current health habits and status, and use of the pantry's resources. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze survey results and qualitative data were analyzed using the constant comparative method and data triangulation.

While 43 individuals were recruited to join the study, only 10 individuals participated. Despite the small sample size, significant health issues and concerns were observed in the biometric screening, survey, and focus group results. The average BMI was 40.2 (obese), and nine of the participants reported suffering from at least one chronic disease, with half reporting more than one chronic disease. Nine of the participants indicated they had not recently had biometric screenings conducted. While most of the participants indicated they consume the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables, all indicated they were physically inactive. Despite the high prevalence of chronic diseases, 70% of participants rated their overall health as good, very good, or excellent. Results of the qualitative data indicate a need for more outreach on programming and services to pantry users to enhance health, as well as an expansion on programming to a more individualized approach addressing health disparities.

Food insecurity is a key health issue, and food pantries serve some of the most vulnerable individuals and families. An ecological framework working with community partners to address these disparities and reach the intended population on site at food pantries is essential in efforts to improve the health of this especially vulnerable population.

Funding Source: University of Kansas General Research Fund

CoAuthors: Briana Novak, B.S. – University of Kansas; Kelsey Fortin, B.S. – University of Kansas

Susan P. Harvey

Assistant Professor
University of Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas