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Can J Public Health. 2009 May-Jun;100(3):189-93.

Demographic and urban form correlates of healthful and unhealthful food availability in Montréal, Canada.

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Axe santé des populations, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC.



This study sought to extend previous analyses of food insecurity in Montreal by examining the relationship between neighbourhood sociodemographic and urban form variables and sources of food both unhealthful (fast-food outlets, FFO) and healthful (stores selling fruits and vegetables, FVS).


Densities of FFO and FVS were computed for 862 Census tract areas (CTA) (defined as census tract with a 1-km buffer around its limits) for the Montréal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). Predictor variables included CTA socio-demographic characteristics reflecting income, household structure, language, and education, and urban form measures, specifically, densities of local roads, main roads, expressways and highways. Food source densities were regressed on CTA characteristics using stepwise regression.


Socio-demographic and urban form measures explained 60% and 73% of the variance in densities of FFO and FVS, respectively. FFO were more prevalent in CTA with higher proportions of full-time students and households speaking neither French nor English; lower proportions of married individuals, children and older adults; and more high-traffic roads. FVS were more prevalent in CTA with higher proportions of single residents, university-educated residents and households speaking neither French nor English; lower proportion of French-speakers; and more local roads. Median household income was not related to the density of FFO or FVS.


The availability of healthful and unhealthful food varies across the Montréal CMA. Areas with lower education and more French-speaking households have a lesser availability of FVS. The association of FFO with high-traffic roadways and areas with high school attendance suggests a point for intervention via commercial zoning changes.

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