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Food democracy, health disparities and the New York City trans fat policy

  • Kimberly E Johnson (a1)



To investigate food democracy and health disparities in the New York City (NYC) trans fat policy process.


Texts from semi-structured interviews, public testimony and comments on the policy were analysed using categorization and thematic coding. A priori content analysis for themes of food democracy was followed by open, axial and selective coding for sub-themes on health disparities. Data and method triangulation and respondent validation were used to establish data dependability, trustworthiness and representativeness.




Interviews from a purposive, snowballed sample of thirty-three participants included restaurateurs, scientists, health and consumer advocates, consumers and policy makers. Additionally, 261 pages of transcript from public testimony of fifty-three participants and a purposive sample of public comments on the policy from a pool of 2157 were analysed.


Principles of food democracy involving inclusive citizenship, access to information, collaborative participation and focus on collective good were well represented in the data. Additionally, sub-themes linked to health disparities included: government responsibility for fairer access to healthier foods; recognition that people made choices based on circumstances; concern for vulnerable groups; and outrage with a food industry viewed as unconcerned for public health.


Principles of food democracy present in the successful process of adoption of the 2006 NYC trans fat policy addressed nutrition-related health. Food democracy is a contemporary food system and policy approach with potential for public health benefits in reducing nutrition-related health disparities.


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Food democracy, health disparities and the New York City trans fat policy

  • Kimberly E Johnson (a1)


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