Online Program

Street vendors' contribution to urban food environments - variation by weather, season, and neighborhood

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

Sean C. Lucan, MD, MPH, MS, Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert EInstein College of Medicine | Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY

Andrew Maroko, PhD, Department of Health Sciences, Lehman College, City University of New York, Bronx, NY
Joel Bumol, BS, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY
Monica Varona, MEM, Nicholas School of the Environment, Durham, NC
Luis Torrens, BA, School of Public Health at Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, NY
Clyde Schechter, MD, Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
INTRODUCTION: Research on food environments has focused mainly on stores and restaurants. Comparatively neglected have been street vendors like roadside carts, trucks, and stands, which may also be important. We sought to describe the contribution of street vendors to food environments in urban neighborhoods. METHODS: Researchers canvassed the entire Bronx looking for street vendors, recording locations, descriptions of food-and-beverage items offered, and vendors' answers to when and where they sell. Neighborhood data came from city and Census sources. RESULTS: Researchers identified 372 vendors. Vendors offering exclusively “less-healthy” foods outnumbered vendors offering exclusively “healthier” foods. Rainy days reduced counts of all vendors on the street, but vendors of exclusively “less-healthy” foods the most. Using a larger definition of “neighborhood” (United Hospital Fund areas), “less-healthy” vending per capita was directly correlated (in summer) with mean sugar-sweetened-beverage consumption, mean body mass index, the proportion of residents reporting high cholesterol or hypertension, and the proportion of residents not graduating high school or living in poverty, and (in winter) with the proportion of poor or Hispanic residents (Spearman correlations 0.90 - 1.00, p values 0.037 to <0.001). Using a smaller definition of “neighborhood” (1/4-mile walking buffer around each vendor), there were greater odds, in summer, of vendors offering “less-healthy” foods with increasing proportions of foreign-born citizens (OR =1.04, p = 0.036), but not in winter. CONCLUSIONS: Street vendors may contribute negatively to food-environment healthfulness overall, but the extent of their overall negative contribution may vary by weather, season, and neighborhood characteristics.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the distribution of street vendors selling “healthier” and “less-healthy” foods (defined in the presentation) across the Bronx. Demonstrate how the distribution of street vendors (mobile sources of food) varies by weather, season, and neighborhood characteristics Explain the potential implications of street vendors’ variable presence for community nutrition and health in urban neighborhoods

Keyword(s): Food and Nutrition, Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a grant-funded public-health researcher, focusing on how different aspects of urban food environments may influence what people eat, and what the implications are for obesity and chronic diseases, particularly in low-income and minority communities.
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.