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J Public Health Policy. 2013 Aug;34(3):424-38. doi: 10.1057/jphp.2013.19. Epub 2013 May 30.

Overweight and obesity: can we reconcile evidence about supermarkets and fast food retailers for public health policy?

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Department of Health Policy & Management, School of Health Sciences and Practice, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 10595, USA.


The aim of this study is to determine whether access to fast food outlets and supermarkets is associated with overweight and obesity in New York City neighborhoods. We use a Bayesian ecologic approach for spatial prediction. Consistent with prior research, we find no association between fast food density and overweight or obesity. Consistent with prior research, we find that supermarket access has a salutary impact on overweight and obesity. Given the lack of empirical evidence linking fast food retailers with adverse health outcomes, policymakers should be encouraged to adopt policies that incentivize the establishment of supermarkets and the modification of existing food store markets and retailers to offer healthier choices. Reaching within neighborhoods and modifying the physical environment and public health prevention and intervention efforts based on the characteristics of those neighborhoods may play a key role in creating healthier communities.

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