In this research, we investigated the food desert in central Tokyo, where economic disparity was progressing by gentrification. Growth of high-income population due to redevelopments induced an increase in luxury supermarkets and a decrease in local grocery stores, which made worsened low-income households access to affordable fresh food. Therefore, we took questionnaire surveys and analyzed on the following 2 aspects.
(1) Shopping distance
We hypothesized that the low-income households have difficulties shopping due to having to go to distant supermarkets.
Generally, it is said to be difficult to access if the shopping distance over 500m. In the study area the average to the store was 319m, so the food access was apparently good. But actually, it was different by area, some area had only luxury supermarkets within 500m, we named “unaffordable food access area”. The low-income households living there went to distant supermarkets by bicycle or bus instead of walking. One-third of them used farther away, over 2km supermarkets. The result of the hypothesis was that the low-income households living in “unaffordable food access area” went shopping to distant stores. Thus, they had difficulties accessing to affordable food.
(2) Nutritional risk
We hypothesized that the low-income households shopping long distance increase risk of low nutritional value diets.
The elderly and low-income households living in “unaffordable food access area” had a 1.76 times higher nutritional risk than the other participants. Multiple regression analysis showed that the cause was not only social networks and personal habits, but also inconvenient shopping circumstances peculiar to urban areas. In addition, traveling long distances to go shopping resulted in a decrease in purchase volume and frequency.
The results of this research indicate that the assessment of the proximity of shopping should consider the accessibility by not only the physical distance but also the households income. Furthermore, the results indicate that traveling long distances to go shopping have a negative influence on purchase volume and frequency, so even if bicycles and public transportation can be used in the area, we should evaluate shopping circumstances by considering shopping behavior.