by Lauren Fiechtner, MD
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.