Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Nikoi Kote-Nikoi


In the United States today, incidents of obesity are on the rise, currently more than one-third, or 35.7% of U.S. adults are considered obese, up from 30.5% in 2000. These startling numbers are causing news institutions and politicians to refer to it as the “obesity epidemic”.

Obesity is linked to multiple health problems including Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and breast cancer (Aronne, L.J., 2002). There are numerous causes of obesity, including genetics, yet high rates of obesity have also been positively linked with a diet high in processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables (Drewnowski, A. & Specter, S.E. 2004). A diet lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables and high in processed foods can lead to obesity which can have numerous impacts on health. There is another layer, however, where the obesity epidemic follows a socioeconomic gradient. At the intersection of poverty, obesity, and health-related problems, many people have looked toward local, and in particular, urban agriculture as a way to increase access to healthy foods and grow the local economy.

Using Amartya Sen’s theory of poverty and starvation as a conceptual framework, this study uses qualitative analysis to explore the question: What role can locally grown food play in increasing access to healthy food in Indianapolis, Indiana? This study concludes that the supply of locally grown food in Indianapolis is too low to push producers towards expanding their markets, making it unlikely that there will be a market-based solution towards making healthy food more accessible for low-income families in the near future.


Agribusiness | Agriculture | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Nutritional Epidemiology


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