How Food and Activity Environments are Related to Body Mass Index (BMI) - An Analysis of Atlanta

Researchers at Lawrence Frank and Company analyzed data collected from the greater Atlanta area to see if the distance people travel for food varies by gender, race/ethnicity, neighborhood characteristics and type of food outlet. They also examined the relative contributions of diet and physical activity in explaining Body Mass Index (BMI) in men, women, Whites and Blacks.

Key Findings

  • People traveled farthest to go to sit-down restaurants and superstores. They traveled the least far for grocery stores and coffee shops.
  • There were not large differences in distances traveled to food outlets by Whites and Blacks or by high- and low-income households.
  • While physical activity, neighborhood walkability and where people went for food all contributed modestly to explaining differences in BMI, the relative contribution of these factors differed significantly between men and women and between Whites and Blacks.