We have been studying how differences in neighborhood retail food environments are associated with body mass index (BMI), diet, gestational weight gain and glycemic control among individuals living with diabetes. Our primary tool for study neighborhood food environments has been Dunn & Bradstreet business listing data and the National Establishment Time Series (NETS) data which we used to develop measures of the density of retail outlets we consider BMI Healthy, BMI Unhealthy and BMI Neutral . We have also performed methodological research to understand how neighborhood level differences in vehicle ownership rates, public transit access, and impediments to pedestrian travel, such as crime and poor traffic safety, might exacerbate or reduce neighborhood level disparities in access to supermarkets . Our findings on the links between food environments and body mass index and diet among residents of NYC were used as part of the scientific rational for the NYC FRESH initiative to bring supermarkets into neighborhoods underserved by retail outlets selling healthy food.
Out papers on neighborhood food environments are here.
The map above shows data on farmers markets and life animal markets we used in our study of food preferences and attitudes among Hispanic women in NYC. Results from our qualitative interview study showed that foreign-born, Hispanic mothers of children in Head Start distrusted and were dissatisfied with food purchased in supermarkets . They felt that produce and meats in supermarkets was not fresh, was likely to be contaminated with chemicals and had poor flavor. Their descriptions of what constituted healthy food aligned with the organic farming, slow food and locavore movements, food systems they reported experiencing in their countries of origin. These women reported that they preferred to shop at farmers markets and live small animal markets in NYC. Our analyses of food frequency questionnaire data from a larger group of Hispanic women showed that having a farmers market with 0.5 Km of the home was associated with higher consumption of fruits and vegetables and that having a farmers market or slaughter house within this distance of home was associated with higher meat consumption . Consumption of fruit and vegetables and meat was not associated with the presence of a supermarket in their neighborhoods.