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Previous literature has shown varying associations between food establishments and childhood obesity, so we sought to examine these associations in a very large sample of nearly 50,000 pediatric patients ages 4-18 years. The results were recently published in the journal Childhood Obesity. Our aim was to determine if the distance from a patient’s home to six types of food establishments was associated with their body mass index (BMI) or weight status.
We examined children who received primary care at 14 pediatric practices in Eastern Massachusetts. Using geographic information systems (GIS) software, we measured the distance from the children’s homes to the closest large supermarket, small supermarket, full service restaurant, fast food restaurant, convenience store, and bakery, coffee shop or candy store. We obtained their weight and height from their electronic health records.

After taking into account the patient’s age, sex, race/ethnicity, neighborhood median income, and the distance to the five other types of food establishments, we found that patients living within 0.5 miles of a large or small supermarket had a lower BMI compared to those living more than 2 miles away. We also found that patients living within 0.5 miles of a fast food or full service restaurant had a higher BMI that those living more than 2 miles away. We did not see an association between the distance to convenience stores, bakeries, coffee shops and candy stores with children’s weight status.

Given our large sample size, we were able to examine whether neighborhood median income, age category, or weight status (normal weight, overweight or obese) changed the relationship between the distance to a food establishment and a child’s weight status. We found that neighborhood median income modified the relationship between distance to full service restaurants and convenience stores and weight status; living closer to a convenience store or full service restaurant in a lower income neighborhood had a more adverse association with weight status than those living in a higher income neighborhood. In other words, children who lived in a lower income neighborhood and closer to a convenience store or full service restaurant were more likely to be overweight or obese than children who lived closer to similar food establishments in higher income neighborhoods

As our nation strives to improve children’s health, we must think about the impact of families’ access to healthy and unhealthy foods, and about the role poverty plays in nutritional choices.

 


Comments

10/23/2015 1:52pm

Thank you for sharing this post with us, I am working in The Apartment Canggu as a manager. We often only associate 'junk foods' with fast-food restaurants, local candy and corner stores or even our grocery stores. But, many of the same ingredients used in 'junk foods' are found in many nutritional supplements - often masquerading as fillers.

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