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Beyond Neighborhood Food Environments: Distance Traveled to Food Establishments in 5 US Cities, 2009-2011.

Liu JL, Han B, Cohen DA - Prev Chronic Dis (2015)

Bottom Line: There was a significant difference in the mean distances to food establishments types (P = .008).Many definitions of the neighborhood food environment are misaligned with individual travel patterns, which may help explain the mixed findings in studies of neighborhood food environments.Neighborhood environments defined by actual travel activity may provide more insight on how the food environment influences dietary and food shopping choices.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Pardee RAND Graduate School, RAND Corporation, 1776 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90401-3208. Email: jodiliu@rand.org.

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Accurate conceptualizations of neighborhood environments are important in the design of policies and programs aiming to improve access to healthy food. Neighborhood environments are often defined by administrative units or buffers around points of interest. An individual may eat and shop for food within or outside these areas, which may not reflect accessibility of food establishments. This article examines the relevance of different definitions of food environments.

Methods: We collected data on trips to food establishments using a 1-week food and travel diary and global positioning system devices. Spatial-temporal clustering methods were applied to identify homes and food establishments visited by study participants.

Results: We identified 513 visits to food establishments (sit-down restaurants, fast-food/convenience stores, malls or stores, groceries/supermarkets) by 135 participants in 5 US cities. The average distance between the food establishments and homes was 2.6 miles (standard deviation, 3.7 miles). Only 34% of the visited food establishments were within participants' neighborhood census tract. Buffers of 1 or 2 miles around the home covered 55% to 65% of visited food establishments. There was a significant difference in the mean distances to food establishments types (P = .008). On average, participants traveled the longest distances to restaurants and the shortest distances to groceries/supermarkets.

Conclusion: Many definitions of the neighborhood food environment are misaligned with individual travel patterns, which may help explain the mixed findings in studies of neighborhood food environments. Neighborhood environments defined by actual travel activity may provide more insight on how the food environment influences dietary and food shopping choices.

Show MeSH

Related in: MedlinePlus

Histograms of distances between home and food establishments, by type of food establishment. Distance traveled to food establishments in 5 US cities, 2009–2011.Distance From Home, MilesType of Establishment, Proportion of VisitsSit-Down RestaurantFast-Food/Convenience StoreMall or StoreGrocery/Supermarket0–10.450.570.630.641–20.100.120.060.092–30.090.030.040.053–40.040.070.050.044–50.080.030.050.035–60.030.030.030.046–70.050.040.020.037–80.040.020.050.048–90.010.020.040.019–100.040.010.020.0410–110.010.010011–1200.020012–130.020.010.020.0113–140.010.020.01014–150.0100015–160.0100.01016–170.0100017–180.0100018–190.0100019–2000.0100
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Related In: Results  -  Collection


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Figure 1: Histograms of distances between home and food establishments, by type of food establishment. Distance traveled to food establishments in 5 US cities, 2009–2011.Distance From Home, MilesType of Establishment, Proportion of VisitsSit-Down RestaurantFast-Food/Convenience StoreMall or StoreGrocery/Supermarket0–10.450.570.630.641–20.100.120.060.092–30.090.030.040.053–40.040.070.050.044–50.080.030.050.035–60.030.030.030.046–70.050.040.020.037–80.040.020.050.048–90.010.020.040.019–100.040.010.020.0410–110.010.010011–1200.020012–130.020.010.020.0113–140.010.020.01014–150.0100015–160.0100.01016–170.0100017–180.0100018–190.0100019–2000.0100

Mentions: The average Euclidean distance between a food establishment and home was 2.6 miles (SD, 3.7 miles) (Table 2). Differences in distances from home across the food establishment types were significant (P = .008). On average, sit-down restaurants visited by participants were farthest from home (3.3 miles), and grocery stores visited by participants were closest to home (1.9 miles). The median distance to sit-down restaurants was 1.4 miles, compared with 0.6 miles to fast food/convenience stores, 0.7 miles to malls or stores, and 0.4 miles to grocery/supermarkets. The distributions of the distances between matched food establishment locations and participants’ homes were highly skewed for every type of food establishment (Figure). Although many food establishments were close to the home, the distributions had a long tail beyond 5 miles from home. Distances of trips to grocery/supermarkets appeared to have the smallest spread, and distances of trips to sit-down restaurants were the most widely distributed.


Beyond Neighborhood Food Environments: Distance Traveled to Food Establishments in 5 US Cities, 2009-2011.

Liu JL, Han B, Cohen DA - Prev Chronic Dis (2015)

Histograms of distances between home and food establishments, by type of food establishment. Distance traveled to food establishments in 5 US cities, 2009–2011.Distance From Home, MilesType of Establishment, Proportion of VisitsSit-Down RestaurantFast-Food/Convenience StoreMall or StoreGrocery/Supermarket0–10.450.570.630.641–20.100.120.060.092–30.090.030.040.053–40.040.070.050.044–50.080.030.050.035–60.030.030.030.046–70.050.040.020.037–80.040.020.050.048–90.010.020.040.019–100.040.010.020.0410–110.010.010011–1200.020012–130.020.010.020.0113–140.010.020.01014–150.0100015–160.0100.01016–170.0100017–180.0100018–190.0100019–2000.0100
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4552139&req=5

Figure 1: Histograms of distances between home and food establishments, by type of food establishment. Distance traveled to food establishments in 5 US cities, 2009–2011.Distance From Home, MilesType of Establishment, Proportion of VisitsSit-Down RestaurantFast-Food/Convenience StoreMall or StoreGrocery/Supermarket0–10.450.570.630.641–20.100.120.060.092–30.090.030.040.053–40.040.070.050.044–50.080.030.050.035–60.030.030.030.046–70.050.040.020.037–80.040.020.050.048–90.010.020.040.019–100.040.010.020.0410–110.010.010011–1200.020012–130.020.010.020.0113–140.010.020.01014–150.0100015–160.0100.01016–170.0100017–180.0100018–190.0100019–2000.0100
Mentions: The average Euclidean distance between a food establishment and home was 2.6 miles (SD, 3.7 miles) (Table 2). Differences in distances from home across the food establishment types were significant (P = .008). On average, sit-down restaurants visited by participants were farthest from home (3.3 miles), and grocery stores visited by participants were closest to home (1.9 miles). The median distance to sit-down restaurants was 1.4 miles, compared with 0.6 miles to fast food/convenience stores, 0.7 miles to malls or stores, and 0.4 miles to grocery/supermarkets. The distributions of the distances between matched food establishment locations and participants’ homes were highly skewed for every type of food establishment (Figure). Although many food establishments were close to the home, the distributions had a long tail beyond 5 miles from home. Distances of trips to grocery/supermarkets appeared to have the smallest spread, and distances of trips to sit-down restaurants were the most widely distributed.

Bottom Line: There was a significant difference in the mean distances to food establishments types (P = .008).Many definitions of the neighborhood food environment are misaligned with individual travel patterns, which may help explain the mixed findings in studies of neighborhood food environments.Neighborhood environments defined by actual travel activity may provide more insight on how the food environment influences dietary and food shopping choices.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Pardee RAND Graduate School, RAND Corporation, 1776 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90401-3208. Email: jodiliu@rand.org.

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Accurate conceptualizations of neighborhood environments are important in the design of policies and programs aiming to improve access to healthy food. Neighborhood environments are often defined by administrative units or buffers around points of interest. An individual may eat and shop for food within or outside these areas, which may not reflect accessibility of food establishments. This article examines the relevance of different definitions of food environments.

Methods: We collected data on trips to food establishments using a 1-week food and travel diary and global positioning system devices. Spatial-temporal clustering methods were applied to identify homes and food establishments visited by study participants.

Results: We identified 513 visits to food establishments (sit-down restaurants, fast-food/convenience stores, malls or stores, groceries/supermarkets) by 135 participants in 5 US cities. The average distance between the food establishments and homes was 2.6 miles (standard deviation, 3.7 miles). Only 34% of the visited food establishments were within participants' neighborhood census tract. Buffers of 1 or 2 miles around the home covered 55% to 65% of visited food establishments. There was a significant difference in the mean distances to food establishments types (P = .008). On average, participants traveled the longest distances to restaurants and the shortest distances to groceries/supermarkets.

Conclusion: Many definitions of the neighborhood food environment are misaligned with individual travel patterns, which may help explain the mixed findings in studies of neighborhood food environments. Neighborhood environments defined by actual travel activity may provide more insight on how the food environment influences dietary and food shopping choices.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus