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Am J Public Health. 2011 Jan;101(1):71-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.187567. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

The neighborhood food environment and adult weight status: estimates from longitudinal data.

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  • 1School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, The City University of New York, NY 10010, USA.



I used longitudinal data to consider the relationship between the neighborhood food environment and adult weight status.


I combined individual-level data on adults from the 1998 through 2004 survey years of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 with zip code-level data on the neighborhood food environment. I estimated ordinary least squares models of obesity, body mass index (BMI), and change in BMI.


For residents of urban areas, the neighborhood density of small grocery stores was positively and significantly related to obesity and BMI. For individuals who moved from a rural area to an urban area over a 2-year period, changes in neighborhood supermarket density, small grocery store density, and full-service restaurant density were significantly related to the change in BMI over that period.


Residents of urban neighborhoods with a higher concentration of small grocery stores may be more likely to patronize these stores and consume more calories because small grocery stores tend to offer more unhealthy food options than healthy food options. Moving to an urban area may expose movers to a wider variety of food options that may influence calorie consumption.

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