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Am J Public Health. 2006 Feb;96(2):325-31. Epub 2005 Dec 27.

Associations of neighborhood characteristics with the location and type of food stores.

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  • 1Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Michigan, 1214 S University, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2548, USA.



We investigated associations between local food environment and neighborhood racial/ethnic and socioeconomic composition.


Poisson regression was used to examine the association of food stores and liquor stores with racial/ethnic composition and income in selected census tracts in North Carolina, Maryland, and New York.


Predominantly minority and racially mixed neighborhoods had more than twice as many grocery stores as predominantly White neighborhoods (for predominantly Black tracts, adjusted stores per population ratio [SR]=2.7; 95% confidence interval [CI]=2.2, 3.2; and for mixed tracts, SR=2.2; 95% CI=1.9, 2.7) and half as many supermarkets (for predominantly Black tracts, SR=0.5; 95% CI=0.3, 0.7; and for mixed tracts, SR=0.7; 95% CI=0.5, 1.0, respectively). Low-income neighborhoods had 4 times as many grocery stores as the wealthiest neighborhoods (SR=4.3; 95% CI=3.6, 5.2) and half as many supermarkets (SR=0.5; 95% CI=0.3, 0.8). In general, poorer areas and non-White areas also tended to have fewer fruit and vegetable markets, bakeries, specialty stores, and natural food stores. Liquor stores were more common in poorer than in richer areas (SR=1.3; 95% CI=1.0, 1.6).


Local food environments vary substantially by neighborhood racial/ethnic and socioeconomic composition and may contribute to disparities in health.

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