Online Program

Systematic review of local food environment and diet related health outcomes

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, FAAN, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Esther Thatcher, MSN, RN, PhD(c), School of Nursing, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Margarita Reina, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Angela Odoms-Young, PhD, Office of Community Engagement and Neighborhood Health Partnerships, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Introduction. Research on contributions of the food environment to obesity and other diet-related health problems has grown rapidly over the past several years. Policymakers are pressing for evidence to guide interventions to reverse the obesity epidemic and improve population health. Methods. This systematic review assessed peer-reviewed U.S. studies through 2012 that tested associations between the community or consumer food environment and body weight, diabetes, or indicators of cardiovascular health (e.g., blood pressure) in adults and children. A systematic keyword search yielded 5,340 titles, of which 61 met full inclusion criteria. Results. Among the findings, over half of adult studies (58%; n=11/19) that examined supermarkets found that better access was associated with healthier weights. Of the studies that examined convenience stores in children, 63.6% (n=7/11) found that better access was associated with less healthy weights. Evidence linking fast food outlets to weight was equivocal (n=10/20 studies in adults; n=3/13 studies in children). Of the 20% of studies that included a direct measure of the consumer food environment (e.g., food availability), few found relationships with body weight. Few associations were found with other health outcomes. Conclusions. There remains no consensus on the importance of the local food environment in Americans' health. While research to date supports some limited interventions (e.g., improving supermarket access, possibly improving product mix and marketing at convenience stores), additional research is needed to identify the most promising targets of policies and programs. Our review points to multiple ways to strengthen evidence on the local food environment and health.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related nursing
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the state of the science on local food environments and diet-related health outcomes. Discuss future directions for food environment research.

Keyword(s): Environment, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: With the other co-authors, I helped to design the study, conduct the literature review, abstract the data, and interpret the results.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 4171.0: Food Environment & Marketing