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Special Issue "Food Environment, Diet, and Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Behavior, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Shannon N. Zenk

Department of Health Systems Science, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: built environment; social environment; food environment; food access; neighborhood; activity space; stress; health disparities; diet; physical activity
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Lisa M. Powell

Health Policy and Administration Division, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
Website | E-Mail

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue on the impact of the food environment on diet and health in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH). This peer-reviewed, scientific journal publishes research articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information on the journal, we refer you to http://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph.  

Over the past 15 years, considerable research has examined inequities in the food environment and associations between the food environment and diet or health. The food environment includes the accessibility of retail food stores, restaurants, and other food sources (e.g., farmers’ markets, mobile food vendors, food pantries, non-traditional food stores) and the availability, quality, prices (including taxes and subsidies), and marketing of food products. Yet important gaps in the evidence remain and new opportunities exist to improve our understanding of how the food environment impacts health. Longitudinal and experimental/quasi-experimental research designs including rigorous evaluation of planned and natural experiments (e.g., food source openings/closings, changes in product mix, introduction of healthy food promotions) would improve causal inference. More research is needed that links individual diet and health outcomes with direct measures of food availability, quality, prices, and marketing. Technological advances such as mobile global positioning system receivers and geographic momentary assessment may improve measurement of food environment exposures and thus understanding of the role of broader activity-space and non-residential food environments. Studies on how people use the food environment and make food shopping and purchasing decisions could help interpret research findings to date and inform intervention approaches. Home and even workplace address information in behavioral and weight loss interventions can open up emerging avenues of research on whether the food environment modifies intervention effectiveness. Additionally, studies that provide evidence on potential unintended consequences that may arise from policies that aim to improve healthy food access are critically important for policymakers. Across all studies more information is needed on which aspects of the food environment impact subpopulations at highest risk for poor diet and adverse health outcomes and contribute to racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and urban–rural health disparities. These are just some of the research areas where more well-designed research is needed to inform policy and interventions in order to improve population health and reduce health inequities.

This Special Issue will feature new research that advances our understanding of the food environment, diet, and health and moves the field forward. It is open to original research, review articles, short reports, brief commentaries, methodological papers, and meta-analyses related to the food environment. The listed keywords suggest a few of the many possible subject areas.

Professor Dr. Shannon N. Zenk
Professor Dr. Lisa M. Powell
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Food environment
  • Diet
  • Nutrition
  • Body weight
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Food availability
  • Food selection
  • Food accessibility
  • Food prices
  • Food taxes
  • Food subsidies
  • Food marketing
  • Food quality
  • Food store
  • Restaurant
  • Fast food
  • Supermarket
  • Grocery store
  • Convenience store
  • Neighborhood
  • Activity space
  • Public health
  • Health geography
  • Environmental exposure

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Long-Term Weight Loss Effects of a Behavioral Weight Management Program: Does the Community Food Environment Matter?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(2), 211; doi:10.3390/ijerph15020211
Received: 1 August 2017 / Revised: 27 October 2017 / Accepted: 29 October 2017 / Published: 26 January 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1302 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This study examined whether community food environments altered the longer-term effects of a nationwide behavioral weight management program on body mass index (BMI). The sample was comprised of 98,871 male weight management program participants and 15,385 female participants, as well as 461,302 and
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This study examined whether community food environments altered the longer-term effects of a nationwide behavioral weight management program on body mass index (BMI). The sample was comprised of 98,871 male weight management program participants and 15,385 female participants, as well as 461,302 and 37,192 inverse propensity-score weighted matched male and female controls. We measured the community food environment by counting the number of supermarkets, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants within a 1-mile radius around each person’s home address. We used difference-in-difference regression models with person and calendar time fixed effects to estimate MOVE! effects over time in sub-populations defined by community food environment attributes. Among men, after an initial decrease in BMI at 6 months, the effect of the program decreased over time, with BMI increasing incrementally at 12 months (0.098 kg/m2, p < 0.001), 18 months (0.069 kg/m2, p < 0.001), and 24 months (0.067 kg/m2, p < 0.001). Among women, the initial effects of the program decreased over time as well. Women had an incremental BMI change of 0.099 kg/m2 at 12 months (p < 0.05) with non-significant incremental changes at 18 months and 24 months. We found little evidence that these longer-term effects of the weight management program differed depending on the community food environment. Physiological adaptations may overwhelm environmental influences on adherence to behavioral regimens in affecting longer-term weight loss outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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Open AccessArticle A Cluster Randomized Trial to Promote Healthy Menu Items for Children: The Kids’ Choice Restaurant Program
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(12), 1494; doi:10.3390/ijerph14121494
Received: 1 August 2017 / Revised: 20 November 2017 / Accepted: 20 November 2017 / Published: 1 December 2017
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Abstract
Evidence indicates that restaurant-based interventions have the potential to promote healthier purchasing and improve the nutrients consumed. This study adds to this body of research by reporting the results of a trial focused on promoting the sale of healthy child menu items in
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Evidence indicates that restaurant-based interventions have the potential to promote healthier purchasing and improve the nutrients consumed. This study adds to this body of research by reporting the results of a trial focused on promoting the sale of healthy child menu items in independently owned restaurants. Eight pair-matched restaurants that met the eligibility criteria were randomized to a menu-only versus a menu-plus intervention condition. Both of the conditions implemented new healthy child menu items and received support for implementation for eight weeks. The menu-plus condition also conducted a marketing campaign involving employee trainings and promotional materials. Process evaluation data captured intervention implementation. Sales of new and existing child menu items were tracked for 16 weeks. Results indicated that the interventions were implemented with moderate to high fidelity depending on the component. Sales of new healthy child menu items occurred immediately, but decreased during the post-intervention period in both conditions. Sales of existing child menu items demonstrated a time by condition effect with restaurants in the menu-plus condition observing significant decreases and menu-only restaurants observing significant increases in sales of existing child menu items. Additional efforts are needed to inform sustainable methods for improving access to healthy foods and beverages in restaurants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Relationships between Vacant Homes and Food Swamps: A Longitudinal Study of an Urban Food Environment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1426; doi:10.3390/ijerph14111426
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 7 November 2017 / Accepted: 7 November 2017 / Published: 21 November 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1160 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Research indicates that living in neighborhoods with high concentrations of boarded-up vacant homes is associated with premature mortality due to cancer and diabetes, but the mechanism for this relationship is unclear. Boarded-up housing may indirectly impact residents’ health by affecting their food environment.
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Research indicates that living in neighborhoods with high concentrations of boarded-up vacant homes is associated with premature mortality due to cancer and diabetes, but the mechanism for this relationship is unclear. Boarded-up housing may indirectly impact residents’ health by affecting their food environment. We evaluated the association between changes in vacancy rates and changes in the density of unhealthy food outlets as a proportion of all food outlets, termed the food swamp index, in Baltimore, MD (USA) from 2001 to 2012, using neighborhood fixed-effects linear regression models. Over the study period, the average food swamp index increased from 93.5 to 95.3 percentage points across all neighborhoods. Among non-African American neighborhoods, increases in the vacancy rate were associated with statistically significant decreases in the food swamp index (b = −0.38; 90% CI, −0.64 to −0.12; p-value: 0.015), after accounting for changes in neighborhood SES, racial diversity, and population size. A positive association was found among low-SES neighborhoods (b = 0.15; 90% CI, 0.037 to 0.27; p-value: 0.031). Vacant homes may influence the composition of food outlets in urban neighborhoods. Future research should further elucidate the mechanisms by which more distal, contextual factors, such as boarded-up vacant homes, may affect food choices and diet-related health outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Neighborhood Prices of Healthier and Unhealthier Foods and Associations with Diet Quality: Evidence from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1394; doi:10.3390/ijerph14111394
Received: 29 July 2017 / Revised: 9 November 2017 / Accepted: 10 November 2017 / Published: 16 November 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (345 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
It is known that the price of food influences the purchasing and consumption decisions of individuals; however, little work has examined if the price of healthier food relative to unhealthier food in an individual’s neighborhood is associated with overall dietary quality while using
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It is known that the price of food influences the purchasing and consumption decisions of individuals; however, little work has examined if the price of healthier food relative to unhealthier food in an individual’s neighborhood is associated with overall dietary quality while using data from multiple regions in the United States. Cross-sectional person-level data came from The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (exam 5, 2010–2012, n = 2765); a food frequency questionnaire assessed diet. Supermarket food/beverage prices came from Information Resources Inc. (n = 794 supermarkets). For each individual, the average price of select indicators of healthier foods (vegetables, fruits, dairy) and unhealthier foods (soda, sweets, salty snacks), as well as their ratio, was computed for supermarkets within three miles of the person’s residential address. Logistic regression estimated odds ratios of a high-quality diet (top quintile of Healthy Eating Index 2010) associated with healthy-to-unhealthy price ratio, adjusted for individual and neighborhood characteristics. Sensitivity analyses used an instrumental variable (IV) approach. Healthier foods cost nearly twice as much as unhealthier foods per serving on average (mean healthy-to-unhealthy ratio = 1.97 [SD 0.14]). A larger healthy-to-unhealthy price ratio was associated with lower odds of a high-quality diet (OR = 0.76 per SD increase in the ratio, 95% CI = [0.64–0.9]). IV analyses largely confirmed these findings although—as expected with IV adjustment—confidence intervals were wide (OR = 0.82 [0.57–1.19]). Policies to address the large price differences between healthier and unhealthy foods may help improve diet quality in the United States. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
Open AccessArticle Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1366; doi:10.3390/ijerph14111366
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 10 October 2017 / Accepted: 21 October 2017 / Published: 14 November 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (343 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper investigates the effect of food environments, characterized as food swamps, on adult obesity rates. Food swamps have been described as areas with a high-density of establishments selling high-calorie fast food and junk food, relative to healthier food options. This study examines
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This paper investigates the effect of food environments, characterized as food swamps, on adult obesity rates. Food swamps have been described as areas with a high-density of establishments selling high-calorie fast food and junk food, relative to healthier food options. This study examines multiple ways of categorizing food environments as food swamps and food deserts, including alternate versions of the Retail Food Environment Index. We merged food outlet, sociodemographic and obesity data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Environment Atlas, the American Community Survey, and a commercial street reference dataset. We employed an instrumental variables (IV) strategy to correct for the endogeneity of food environments (i.e., that individuals self-select into neighborhoods and may consider food availability in their decision). Our results suggest that the presence of a food swamp is a stronger predictor of obesity rates than the absence of full-service grocery stores. We found, even after controlling for food desert effects, food swamps have a positive, statistically significant effect on adult obesity rates. All three food swamp measures indicated the same positive association, but reflected different magnitudes of the food swamp effect on rates of adult obesity (p values ranged from 0.00 to 0.16). Our adjustment for reverse causality, using an IV approach, revealed a stronger effect of food swamps than would have been obtained by naïve ordinary least squares (OLS) estimates. The food swamp effect was stronger in counties with greater income inequality (p < 0.05) and where residents are less mobile (p < 0.01). Based on these findings, local government policies such as zoning laws simultaneously restricting access to unhealthy food outlets and incentivizing healthy food retailers to locate in underserved neighborhoods warrant consideration as strategies to increase health equity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
Open AccessArticle The Impact of a Multi-Level Multi-Component Childhood Obesity Prevention Intervention on Healthy Food Availability, Sales, and Purchasing in a Low-Income Urban Area
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1371; doi:10.3390/ijerph14111371
Received: 1 August 2017 / Revised: 18 October 2017 / Accepted: 6 November 2017 / Published: 10 November 2017
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Abstract
The multifactorial causes of obesity require multilevel and multicomponent solutions, but such combined strategies have not been tested to improve the community food environment. We evaluated the impact of a multilevel (operating at different levels of the food environment) multicomponent (interventions occurring at
[...] Read more.
The multifactorial causes of obesity require multilevel and multicomponent solutions, but such combined strategies have not been tested to improve the community food environment. We evaluated the impact of a multilevel (operating at different levels of the food environment) multicomponent (interventions occurring at the same level) community intervention. The B’more Healthy Communities for Kids (BHCK) intervention worked at the wholesaler (n = 3), corner store (n = 50), carryout (n = 30), recreation center (n = 28), household (n = 365) levels to improve availability, purchasing, and consumption of healthier foods and beverages (low-sugar, low-fat) in low-income food desert predominantly African American zones in the city of Baltimore (MD, USA), ultimately intending to lead to decreased weight gain in children (not reported in this manuscript). For this paper, we focus on more proximal impacts on the food environment, and measure change in stocking, sales and purchase of promoted foods at the different levels of the food system in 14 intervention neighborhoods, as compared to 14 comparison neighborhoods. Sales of promoted products increased in wholesalers. Stocking of these products improved in corner stores, but not in carryouts, and we did not find any change in total sales. Children more exposed to the intervention increased their frequency of purchase of promoted products, although improvement was not seen for adult caregivers. A multilevel food environment intervention in a low-income urban setting improved aspects of the food system, leading to increased healthy food purchasing behavior in children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Sensitizing Black Adult and Youth Consumers to Targeted Food Marketing Tactics in Their Environments
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1316; doi:10.3390/ijerph14111316
Received: 1 July 2017 / Revised: 29 September 2017 / Accepted: 25 October 2017 / Published: 29 October 2017
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Abstract
Food marketing environments of Black American consumers are heavily affected by ethnically-targeted marketing of sugar sweetened beverages, fast foods, and other products that may contribute to caloric overconsumption. This qualitative study assessed Black consumers’ responses to targeted marketing. Black adults (2 mixed gender
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Food marketing environments of Black American consumers are heavily affected by ethnically-targeted marketing of sugar sweetened beverages, fast foods, and other products that may contribute to caloric overconsumption. This qualitative study assessed Black consumers’ responses to targeted marketing. Black adults (2 mixed gender groups; total n = 30) and youth (2 gender specific groups; total n = 35) from two U.S. communities participated before and after a sensitization procedure—a critical practice used to understand social justice concerns. Pre-sensitization focus groups elicited responses to scenarios about various targeted marketing tactics. Participants were then given an informational booklet about targeted marketing to Black Americans, and all returned for the second (post-sensitization) focus group one week later. Conventional qualitative content analysis of transcripts identified several salient themes: seeing the marketer’s perspective (“it’s about demand”; “consumers choose”), respect for community (“marketers are setting us up for failure”; “making wrong assumptions”), and food environments as a social justice issue (“no one is watching the door”; “I didn’t realize”). Effects of sensitization were reflected in participants’ stated reactions to the information in the booklet, and also in the relative occurrence of marketer-oriented themes and social justice-oriented themes, respectively, less and more after sensitization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Examination of the Relationship between In-Store Environmental Factors and Fruit and Vegetable Purchasing among Hispanics
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1305; doi:10.3390/ijerph14111305
Received: 24 July 2017 / Revised: 3 October 2017 / Accepted: 21 October 2017 / Published: 27 October 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (319 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Retail food environments have received attention for their influence on dietary behaviors and for their nutrition intervention potential. To improve diet-related behaviors, such as fruit and vegetable (FV) purchasing, it is important to examine its relationship with in-store environmental characteristics. This study used
[...] Read more.
Retail food environments have received attention for their influence on dietary behaviors and for their nutrition intervention potential. To improve diet-related behaviors, such as fruit and vegetable (FV) purchasing, it is important to examine its relationship with in-store environmental characteristics. This study used baseline data from the “El Valor de Nuestra Salud” study to examine how in-store environmental characteristics, such as product availability, placement and promotion, were associated with FV purchasing among Hispanic customers in San Diego County. Mixed linear regression models indicated that greater availability of fresh FVs was associated with a $0.36 increase in FV purchasing (p = 0.01). Placement variables, specifically each additional square foot of display space dedicated to FVs (p = 0.01) and each additional fresh FV display (p = 0.01), were associated with a $0.02 increase and $0.29 decrease, respectively, in FV purchasing. Introducing FV promotions in the final model was not related to FV purchasing. Exploratory analyses indicated that men reported spending $3.69 fewer dollars on FVs compared to women, controlling for covariates (p = 0.02). These results can help inform interventions targeting in-store environmental characteristics to encourage FV purchasing among Hispanics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
Open AccessArticle Interplay of Socioeconomic Status and Supermarket Distance Is Associated with Excess Obesity Risk: A UK Cross-Sectional Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1290; doi:10.3390/ijerph14111290
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 16 October 2017 / Accepted: 16 October 2017 / Published: 25 October 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (322 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
U.S. policy initiatives have sought to improve health through attracting neighborhood supermarket investment. Little evidence exists to suggest that these policies will be effective, in particular where there are socioeconomic barriers to healthy eating. We measured the independent associations and combined interplay of
[...] Read more.
U.S. policy initiatives have sought to improve health through attracting neighborhood supermarket investment. Little evidence exists to suggest that these policies will be effective, in particular where there are socioeconomic barriers to healthy eating. We measured the independent associations and combined interplay of supermarket access and socioeconomic status with obesity. Using data on 9702 UK adults, we employed adjusted regression analyses to estimate measured BMI (kg/m2), overweight (25 ≥ BMI < 30) and obesity (≥30), across participants’ highest educational attainment (three groups) and tertiles of street network distance (km) from home location to nearest supermarket. Jointly-classified models estimated combined associations of education and supermarket distance, and relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI). Participants farthest away from their nearest supermarket had higher odds of obesity (OR 1.33, 95% CI: 1.11, 1.58), relative to those living closest. Lower education was also associated with higher odds of obesity. Those least-educated and living farthest away had 3.39 (2.46–4.65) times the odds of being obese, compared to those highest-educated and living closest, with an excess obesity risk (RERI = 0.09); results were similar for overweight. Our results suggest that public health can be improved through planning better access to supermarkets, in combination with interventions to address socioeconomic barriers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
Open AccessArticle Food and Beverage Availability in Small Food Stores Located in Healthy Food Financing Initiative Eligible Communities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(10), 1242; doi:10.3390/ijerph14101242
Received: 4 August 2017 / Revised: 3 October 2017 / Accepted: 12 October 2017 / Published: 18 October 2017
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Abstract
Food deserts are a major public health concern. This study aimed to assess food and beverage availability in four underserved communities eligible to receive funding from the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). Data analyzed are part of a quasi-experimental study evaluating the impact
[...] Read more.
Food deserts are a major public health concern. This study aimed to assess food and beverage availability in four underserved communities eligible to receive funding from the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). Data analyzed are part of a quasi-experimental study evaluating the impact of the HFFI on the retail food environment in selected Illinois communities. In 2015, 127 small grocery and limited service stores located in the four selected communities were audited. All communities had a large percentage of low-income and African-American residents. Differences in food and beverage item availability (e.g., produce, milk, bread, snack foods) were examined by store type and community location. Food stores had, on average, 1.8 fresh fruit and 2.9 fresh vegetable options. About 12% of stores sold low-fat milk while 86% sold whole milk. Only 12% of stores offered 100% whole wheat bread compared to 84% of stores offering white bread. Almost all (97%) stores offered soda and/or fruit juice. In summary, we found limited availability of healthier food and beverage items in the communities identified for HFFI support. Follow up findings will address how the introduction of new HFFI-supported supermarkets will affect food and beverage availability in these communities over time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Baseline Assessment of a Healthy Corner Store Initiative: Associations between Food Store Environments, Shopping Patterns, Customer Purchases, and Dietary Intake in Eastern North Carolina
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(10), 1189; doi:10.3390/ijerph14101189
Received: 27 July 2017 / Revised: 2 October 2017 / Accepted: 3 October 2017 / Published: 7 October 2017
PDF Full-text (317 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In 2016, the North Carolina (NC) Legislature allocated $250,000 to the NC Department of Agriculture, to identify and equip small food retailers to stock healthier foods and beverages in eastern NC food deserts (the NC Healthy Food Small Retailer Program, HFSRP). The purpose
[...] Read more.
In 2016, the North Carolina (NC) Legislature allocated $250,000 to the NC Department of Agriculture, to identify and equip small food retailers to stock healthier foods and beverages in eastern NC food deserts (the NC Healthy Food Small Retailer Program, HFSRP). The purpose of this study was to examine associations between food store environments, shopping patterns, customer purchases, and dietary consumption among corner store customers. We surveyed 479 customers in 16 corner stores regarding demographics, food purchased, shopping patterns, and self-reported fruit, vegetable, and soda consumption. We objectively assessed fruit and vegetable consumption using a non-invasive reflection spectroscopy device to measure skin carotenoids. We examined associations between variables of interest, using Pearson’s correlation coefficients and adjusted linear regression analyses. A majority (66%) of participants were African American, with a mean age of 43 years, and a mean body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 kg/m2. There were no significant associations between the healthfulness of food store offerings, customer purchases, or dietary consumption. Participants who said they had purchased fruits and vegetables at the store previously reported higher produce intake (5.70 (4.29) vs. 4.60 (3.28) servings per day, p = 0.021) versus those who had not previously purchased fresh produce. The NC Legislature has allocated another $250,000 to the HFSRP for the 2018 fiscal year. Thus, evaluation results will be important to inform future healthy corner store policies and initiatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
Open AccessArticle Discrete Choice Model of Food Store Trips Using National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(10), 1133; doi:10.3390/ijerph14101133
Received: 1 July 2017 / Revised: 8 August 2017 / Accepted: 21 September 2017 / Published: 27 September 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (504 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Where households across income levels shop for food is of central concern within a growing body of research focused on where people live relative to where they shop, what they purchase and eat, and how those choices influence the risk of obesity and
[...] Read more.
Where households across income levels shop for food is of central concern within a growing body of research focused on where people live relative to where they shop, what they purchase and eat, and how those choices influence the risk of obesity and chronic disease. We analyzed data from the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) using a conditional logit model to determine where participants shop for food to be prepared and eaten at home and how individual and household characteristics of food shoppers interact with store characteristics and distance from home in determining store choice. Store size, whether or not it was a full-service supermarket, and the driving distance from home to the store constituted the three significant main effects on store choice. Overall, participants were more likely to choose larger stores, conventional supermarkets rather than super-centers and other types of stores, and stores closer to home. Interaction effects show that participants receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were even more likely to choose larger stores. Hispanic participants were more likely than non-Hispanics to choose full-service supermarkets while White participants were more likely to travel further than non-Whites. This study demonstrates the value of explicitly spatial discrete choice models and provides evidence of national trends consistent with previous smaller, local studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Food Shopping and Acquisition Behaviors in Relation to BMI among Residents of Low-Income Communities in South Carolina
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 1075; doi:10.3390/ijerph14091075
Received: 20 June 2017 / Revised: 12 September 2017 / Accepted: 13 September 2017 / Published: 16 September 2017
PDF Full-text (323 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Low-income areas in which residents have poor access to healthy foods have been referred to as “food deserts.” It is thought that improving food access may help curb the obesity epidemic. Little is known about where residents of food deserts shop and if
[...] Read more.
Low-income areas in which residents have poor access to healthy foods have been referred to as “food deserts.” It is thought that improving food access may help curb the obesity epidemic. Little is known about where residents of food deserts shop and if shopping habits are associated with body mass index (BMI). We evaluated the association of food shopping and acquisition (e.g., obtaining food from church, food pantries, etc.) with BMI among 459 residents of low-income communities from two South Carolina counties, 81% of whom lived in United States Department of Agriculture-designated food deserts. Participants were interviewed about food shopping and acquisition and perceptions of their food environment, and weight and height were measured. Distances to food retail outlets were determined. Multivariable linear regression analysis was employed. Our study sample comprising largely African-American women had an average BMI of 32.5 kg/m2. The vast majority of study participants shopped at supermarkets (61%) or supercenters/warehouse clubs (27%). Shopping at a supercenter or warehouse club as one’s primary store was significantly associated with a 2.6 kg/m2 higher BMI compared to shopping at a supermarket, independent of demographics, socioeconomics, physical activity, and all other food shopping/acquisition behaviors. Persons who reported shopping at a small grocery store or a convenience or dollar store as their tertiary store had a 2.6 kg/m2 lower BMI. Respondents who perceived lack of access to adequate food shopping in their neighborhoods as a problem had higher BMI. Living in a food desert census tract was not significantly associated with BMI. Other shopping attributes, including distance to utilized and nearest grocery stores, were not independently associated with BMI. These findings call into question the idea that poor spatial access to grocery stores is a key underlying factor affecting the obesity epidemic. Future research should consider assessing foods purchased and dietary intake within a comprehensive study of food shopping behaviors and health outcomes among persons living in food deserts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
Open AccessArticle The Impact of a City-Level Minimum-Wage Policy on Supermarket Food Prices in Seattle-King County
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 1039; doi:10.3390/ijerph14091039
Received: 28 June 2017 / Revised: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 6 September 2017 / Published: 9 September 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1101 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Background: Many states and localities throughout the U.S. have adopted higher minimum wages. Higher labor costs among low-wage food system workers could result in higher food prices. Methods: Using a market basket of 106 foods, food prices were collected at affected
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Background: Many states and localities throughout the U.S. have adopted higher minimum wages. Higher labor costs among low-wage food system workers could result in higher food prices. Methods: Using a market basket of 106 foods, food prices were collected at affected chain supermarket stores in Seattle and same-chain unaffected stores in King County (n = 12 total, six per location). Prices were collected at 1 month pre- (March 2015) and 1-month post-policy enactment (May 2015), then again 1-year post-policy enactment (May 2016). Unpaired t-tests were used to detect price differences by location at fixed time while paired t-tests were used to detect price difference across time with fixed store chain. A multi-level, linear differences-in-differences model, was used to detect the changes in the average market basket item food prices over time across regions, overall and by food group. Results: There were no significant differences in overall market basket or item-level costs at one-month (−$0.01, SE = 0.05, p = 0.884) or one-year post-policy enactment (−$0.02, SE = 0.08, p = 0.772). No significant increases were observed by food group. Conclusions: There is no evidence of change in supermarket food prices by market basket or increase in prices by food group in response to the implementation of Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Pricing of Staple Foods at Supermarkets versus Small Food Stores
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 915; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080915
Received: 20 June 2017 / Revised: 6 August 2017 / Accepted: 12 August 2017 / Published: 15 August 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (698 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Prices affect food purchase decisions, particularly in lower-income communities, where access to a range of food retailers (including supermarkets) is limited. The aim of this study was to examine differences in staple food pricing between small urban food stores and the closest supermarkets,
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Prices affect food purchase decisions, particularly in lower-income communities, where access to a range of food retailers (including supermarkets) is limited. The aim of this study was to examine differences in staple food pricing between small urban food stores and the closest supermarkets, as well as whether pricing differentials varied based on proximity between small stores and larger retailers. In 2014, prices were measured for 15 staple foods during store visits in 140 smaller stores (corner stores, gas-marts, dollar stores, and pharmacies) in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN and their closest supermarket. Mixed models controlling for store type were used to estimate the average price differential between: (a) smaller stores and supermarkets; (b) isolated smaller stores (>1 mile to closest supermarket) and non-isolated smaller stores; and (c) isolated smaller stores inside versus outside USDA-identified food deserts. On average, all items except white bread were 10–54% more expensive in smaller stores than in supermarkets (p < 0.001). Prices were generally not significantly different in isolated stores compared with non-isolated stores for most items. Among isolated stores, there were no price differences inside versus outside food deserts. We conclude that smaller food stores have higher prices for most staple foods compared to their closest supermarket, regardless of proximity. More research is needed to examine staple food prices in different retail spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Progress Evaluation for the Restaurant Industry Assessed by a Voluntary Marketing-Mix and Choice-Architecture Framework That Offers Strategies to Nudge American Customers toward Healthy Food Environments, 2006–2017
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(7), 760; doi:10.3390/ijerph14070760
Received: 21 May 2017 / Revised: 1 July 2017 / Accepted: 4 July 2017 / Published: 12 July 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (412 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Consumption of restaurant food and beverage products high in fat, sugar and sodium contribute to obesity and non-communicable diseases. We evaluated restaurant-sector progress to promote healthy food environments for Americans. We conducted a desk review of seven electronic databases (January 2006–January 2017) to
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Consumption of restaurant food and beverage products high in fat, sugar and sodium contribute to obesity and non-communicable diseases. We evaluated restaurant-sector progress to promote healthy food environments for Americans. We conducted a desk review of seven electronic databases (January 2006–January 2017) to examine restaurant strategies used to promote healthful options in the United States (U.S.). Evidence selection (n = 84) was guided by the LEAD principles (i.e., locate, evaluate, and assemble evidence to inform decisions) and verified by data and investigator triangulation. A marketing-mix and choice-architecture framework was used to examine eight voluntary strategies (i.e., place, profile, portion, pricing, promotion, healthy default picks, priming or prompting and proximity) to evaluate progress (i.e., no, limited, some or extensive) toward 12 performance metrics based on available published evidence. The U.S. restaurant sector has made limited progress to use pricing, profile (reformulation), healthy default picks (choices), promotion (responsible marketing) and priming and prompting (information and labeling); and some progress to reduce portions. No evidence was available to assess progress for place (ambience) and proximity (positioning) to promote healthy choices during the 10-year review period. Chain and non-chain restaurants can apply comprehensive marketing-mix and nudge strategies to promote healthy food environments for customers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
Open AccessArticle Individual and Store Characteristics Associated with Brand Choices in Select Food Category Redemptions among WIC Participants in Virginia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(4), 364; doi:10.3390/ijerph14040364
Received: 1 January 2017 / Revised: 15 March 2017 / Accepted: 17 March 2017 / Published: 31 March 2017
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Abstract
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) often allows participants to redeem food benefits for various brands at different costs. To aid the program’s food cost containment efforts, it is important to understand the individual and store characteristics associated
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The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) often allows participants to redeem food benefits for various brands at different costs. To aid the program’s food cost containment efforts, it is important to understand the individual and store characteristics associated with brand choices. This study used the WIC Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) data for 239,062 Virginia WIC participants’ brand choices in infant fruits and vegetables (F&Vs) and whole grain bread in May 2014–February 2015, one of the first such data sets available in the U.S. for research purposes. Mixed effects logistic regression models were used to analyze the choice of higher-priced brands over lower-priced brands. Minority participants were significantly more likely to redeem higher-priced brands of infant F&Vs, but more likely to choose lower-priced brands of bread. Participants shopping in urban stores or midsized stores (with 5–9 registers) were less likely to choose higher-priced brands compared to rural stores or large stores (with 9+ registers). Race/ethnicity and store characteristics may be significant factors in participants’ brand choices. The results can help develop interventions that encourage targeted participants to redeem lower-priced but equivalently healthy brands. This may not only help contain WIC program costs, but help participants manage their own non-WIC food expenses as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)

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Open AccessReview Food and Beverage Marketing in Schools: A Review of the Evidence
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 1054; doi:10.3390/ijerph14091054
Received: 20 June 2017 / Revised: 25 August 2017 / Accepted: 6 September 2017 / Published: 12 September 2017
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Abstract
Despite growing interest from government agencies, non-governmental organizations and school boards in restricting or regulating unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children, limited research has examined the emerging knowledge base regarding school-based food and beverage marketing in high-income countries. This review examined current
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Despite growing interest from government agencies, non-governmental organizations and school boards in restricting or regulating unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children, limited research has examined the emerging knowledge base regarding school-based food and beverage marketing in high-income countries. This review examined current approaches for measuring school food and beverage marketing practices, and evidence regarding the extent of exposure and hypothesized associations with children’s diet-related outcomes. Five databases (MEDLINE, Web of Science, CINAHL, Embase, and PsycINFO) and six grey literature sources were searched for papers that explicitly examined school-based food and beverage marketing policies or practices. Twenty-seven papers, across four high-income countries including Canada (n = 2), Ireland (n = 1), Poland (n = 1) and United States (n = 23) were identified and reviewed. Results showed that three main methodological approaches have been used: direct observation, self-report surveys, and in-person/telephone interviews, but few studies reported on the validity or reliability of measures. Findings suggest that students in the U.S. are commonly exposed to a broad array of food and beverage marketing approaches including direct and indirect advertising, although the extent of exposure varies widely across studies. More pervasive marketing exposure was found among secondary or high schools compared with elementary/middle schools and among schools with lower compared with higher socio-economic status. Three of five studies examining diet-related outcomes found that exposure to school-based food and beverage marketing was associated with food purchasing or consumption, particularly for minimally nutritious items. There remains a need for a core set of standard and universal measures that are sufficiently rigorous and comprehensive to assess the totality of school food and beverage marketing practices that can be used to compare exposure between study contexts and over time. Future research should examine the validity of school food and beverage marketing assessments and the impacts of exposure (and emerging policies that reduce exposure) on children’s purchasing and diet-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors in school settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Environment, Diet, and Health)
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