Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 103, Issue 6, pp e433–e437 | Cite as

Classifying Neighbourhoods by Level of Access to Stores Selling Fresh Fruit and Vegetables and Groceries: Identifying Problematic Areas in the City of Gatineau, Quebec

  • Adrian C. Gould
  • Philippe Apparicio
  • Marie-Soleil CloutierEmail author
Quantitative Research


Objectives: Physical access to stores selling groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables (FV) is essential for urban dwellers. In Canadian cities where low-density development practices are common, social and material deprivation may be compounded by poor geographic access to healthy food. This case study examines access to food stores selling fresh FV in Gatineau, Quebec, to identify areas where poor access is coincident with high deprivation.

Method: Food retailers were identified using two secondary sources and each store was visited to establish the total surface area devoted to the sale of fresh FV. Four population-weighted accessibility measures were then calculated for each dissemination area (DA) using road network distances. A deprivation index was created using variables from the 2006 Statistics Canada census, also at the scale of the DA. Finally, six classes of accessibility to a healthy diet were constructed using a k-means classification procedure. These were mapped and superimposed over high deprivation areas.

Results: Overall, deprivation is positively correlated with better accessibility. However, more than 18,000 residents (7.5% of the population) live in high deprivation areas characterized by large distances to the nearest retail food store (means of 1.4 km or greater) and virtually no access to fresh FV within walking distance (radius of 1 km).

Conclusion: In this research, we identified areas where poor geographic access may introduce an additional constraint for residents already dealing with the challenges of limited financial and social resources. Our results may help guide local food security policies and initiatives.


Objectifs: L’accès physique à des magasins qui vendent des produits d’épicerie et des fruits et légumes (FL) frais est essentiel pour les citadins. Dans les villes canadiennes, où les pratiques d’aménagement à faible densité sont courantes, la défavorisation sociale et matérielle peut être aggravée par le manque d’accès géographique à des aliments sains. Notre étude de cas, qui porte sur l’accès aux magasins d’alimentation qui vendent des FL frais à Gatineau (Québec), vise à repérer les zones où les problèmes d’accès coïncident avec une défavorisation élevée.

Méthode: Nous avons repéré les détaillants en alimentation à l’aide de deux sources secondaires et visité chaque magasin afin de calculer la superficie totale consacrée à la vente de FL frais. Nous avons ensuite calculé quatre indicateurs de l’accessibilité pondérée selon la population pour chaque aire de diffusion (AD) à l’aide des distances du réseau routier. Nous avons créé un indice de défavorisation à l’aide des variables du Recensement 2006 de Statistique Canada, toujours à l’échelle des AD. Enfin, nous avons construit six catégories d’accessibilité aux aliments sains selon une méthode à K moyennes. Ces catégories ont été cartographiées et surimposées sur les zones à défavorisation élevée.

Résultats: Globalement, la défavorisation est positivement corrélée avec une meilleure accessibilité. Cependant, plus de 18 000 résidents (7,5 % de la population) vivent dans des zones à défavorisation élevée caractérisées par de grandes distances jusqu’au magasin d’alimentation de détail le plus proche (1,4 km ou plus en moyenne) et pratiquement aucun accès à des FL frais à distance de marche (dans un rayon de 1 km).

Conclusion: Dans cette étude, nous avons recensé les zones où l’accès géographique difficile pourrait introduire une contrainte de plus pour des résidents déjà aux prises avec des problèmes de ressources financières et sociales limitées. Nos résultats peuvent contribuer à orienter les politiques et les initiatives de sécurité alimentaire.

Key words

Geographic mapping spatial analysis poverty areas socioeconomic factors geographic information systems 

Mots clés

cartographie géographique analyse spatiale zones de pauvreté facteurs socioéconomiques systèmes d’information géographique 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrian C. Gould
    • 1
  • Philippe Apparicio
    • 1
  • Marie-Soleil Cloutier
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre Urbanisation Culture SociétéInstitut national de la recherche scientifiqueMontréalCanada

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