Study Examines the Impact of Food Shopping Venues and Neighborhood Food Environment on BMI in Urban Adults

April 16, 2016
Community Health chronic disease environemental health epidemiology Health Disparities Public Health

A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior investigates the relationship between food shopping venues, neighborhood food environment, and body mass index (BMI) in urban adults in the US. The study, titled “Food Shopping Venues, Neighborhood Food Environment, and Body Mass Index Among Guyanese, Black, and White Adults in an Urban Community in the US,” was conducted by Akiko S Hosler, Isaac H Michaels, and Erin M Buckenmeyer.

The authors found that on average, respondents used 3.5 different food shopping venues. Supermarkets and ethnic markets were associated with a lower BMI in Guyanese adults, while farmers’ markets were associated with a lower BMI in black adults. Supermarkets, wholesale clubs, and food pantries were associated with a higher BMI in black adults, while food coops and supermarkets were associated with a lower BMI in white adults, and wholesale clubs were associated with a higher BMI in white adults. Additionally, neighborhoods with less favorable food environments (longer travel distances to a supermarket) were associated with a lower BMI in Guyanese adults.

These findings suggest that both primary (e.g. supermarkets) and secondary food shopping venues may be independent determinants of BMI, and that there may be variations in these relationships by race and ethnicity. These results provide insights into the need for a culturally tailored approach to addressing obesity.

In terms of the relationship between food shopping venues and BMI, the authors found that shopping at supermarkets did not necessarily relate to a healthy body weight, as it was associated with a higher BMI in black adults. This may be due to the fact that supermarkets carry a wide range of inexpensive, high-calorie, nutritionally poor foods in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the type of supermarket may be important, as some studies have found that shopping at low-priced supermarkets is associated with a higher BMI compared to shopping at mid-priced or high-end supermarkets.

The authors also found that culture seems to affect the types of secondary stores that respondents frequent and their associations with BMI. For example, Guyanese respondents’ preference for shopping at ethnic markets was associated with a lower BMI, which may be due to the obesity-protective effect of a traditional non-Western diet in first-generation immigrants. Meanwhile, food co-ops were more commonly used by white adults and were associated with a lower BMI in this population. The authors suggest that this may be due to the cultural roots of the food co-op movement in the white subculture.

In terms of the relationship between neighborhood food environment and BMI, the authors found that neighborhoods with less favorable food environments (longer travel distances to a supermarket) were associated with a lower BMI in Guyanese adults. This may be due to the fact that individuals living in these neighborhoods may have limited access to healthy food options and may be more reliant on secondary food shopping venues or food pantries as a source of nutrition.

Overall, this study highlights the complex relationship between food shopping venues, neighborhood food environment, and BMI, and the need for a culturally tailored approach to addressing obesity. Further research is needed to better understand these relationships and to develop interventions to improve access to healthy food options for all individuals.



Article Citation:

Hosler AS, Michaels IH, Buckenmeyer EM. Food Shopping Venues, Neighborhood Food Environment, and Body Mass Index Among Guyanese, Black, and White Adults in an Urban Community in the US. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2016 Jun;48(6):361-368.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2016.03.003. Epub 2016 Apr 13. PMID: 27085256.
https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1499-4046(16)30038-0


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