Associations of the Local Food Environment with Diet Quality

A Comparison of Assessments Based on Surveys and Geographic Information Systems: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

To better understand the food environment, researchers investigated the relationship between two global diet measures and three local food environment measures: supermarket density, participant-reported assessments and aggregated survey responses of independent informants. 

What researchers found: Participants with no supermarkets near their homes were 25–46 percent less likely to have a healthy diet than those with the most stores. Those living in areas ranked by participants or informants as having the worst food environments were 22–35 percent less likely to have a healthy diet than those in the best-ranked food environments.

Why we chose this publication: These findings confirm previous studies that demonstrated the significant association between supermarket availability and individual dietary patterns. The use of three different measures of the local food environment and the assessment of dietary patterns rather than individual foods enhance the robustness of the study results and suggest the importance of creating local food environments that promote positive behavior change.

What researchers studied: The researchers used the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a 2000–2002 U.S. study of adults 45–84 years. Binomial regression provided the probability of having a healthy diet within food environments.

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