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Am J Prev Med. 2011 Jun;40(6):625-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.02.015.

Food expenditures and food purchasing among low-income, urban, African-American youth.

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Center for Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, 6156 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



Low-income, urban African-American youth are at higher risk for obesity and less likely to meet dietary recommendations than white, higher-income youth. Patterns of food purchasing among youth likely contribute to these disparities, but little published information is available.


To investigate food purchasing behaviors of low-income, urban African-American youth.


A total of 242 African-American youth, aged 10-14 years, were recruited from 14 recreation centers in low-income, predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Baltimore MD. Youth reported the amount of money typically spent on food, the source of this money, the place of purchase, and frequency of purchase for 29 foods and beverages. Data were collected in 2008-2009 and analyzed in 2009-2010.


Youth reported spending an average of $3.96 on foods and beverages in a typical day. Corner stores were the most frequently visited food source (youth made purchases at these stores an average of 2.0 times per week). Chips, candy, and soda were the most commonly purchased items, with youth purchasing these an average of 2.5, 1.8, and 1.4 times per week, respectively. Older age was associated with more money spent on food in a typical day (p<0.01).


Food purchasing among low-income, urban African-American youth is frequent and substantial. Interventions aimed at preventing and treating obesity in this population should focus on increasing access to healthy foods in their neighborhoods, especially in corner stores.

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