We have continued our work studying the food environment in NYC, developing measures that take a more ecosystem perspective on neighborhood food environments. For each zip code, we measured the density of food outlets, the proportion of retail food outlets that were BMI-healthy (supermarkets, fruit and vegetable markets, natural food stores) or BMI-unhealthy (local and national fast food restaurants, pizza restaurants, convenience stores, bodegas, bakeries, candy and nut stores, meat markets) and the overall diversity of the food environment.
These zip code level measures were then linked to data on Body Mass Index (BMI) for 48,482 respondents of the 2002–2006 Community Health Survey. After control for individual- and neighborhood-level socio-demographic characteristics, respondent’s BMI was inversely associated with food outlet density and positively associated with the proportion of outlets that were BMI-unhealthy. The association between BMI and the proportion of BMI-unhealthy food outlets was stronger for residents of lower-poverty zip codes than for residents of high-poverty zip codes. The inverse association between BMI and food outlet density was similar for residents of low- and high-poverty zip codes.
All of the details for this project are available in a paper we recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.