Public Health Nutrition

Marketing and communication

Perceptions of the food shopping environment are associated with greater consumption of fruits and vegetables

Jonathan L Blitsteina1 c1, Jeremy Snidera2 and W Douglas Evansa2

a1 RTI International, 3040 East Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2194, USA

a2 The George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington, DC, USA


Objective The present study examined whether characteristics such as quality, selection and convenience are associated with dietary intake of fruits and vegetables independent of perceived costs in an inner-city, low-income population.

Design Secondary analysis of baseline data from a social marketing intervention designed to change household dietary practices among parents of 3- to 7-year-old children.

Setting A community sample drawn from six low-income, primarily minority neighbourhoods in Chicago, IL, USA.

Subjects From the parent study, 526 respondents completed the baseline survey and were eligible for inclusion. Of this number, 495 provided complete data on sociodemographic characteristics, fruit and vegetable consumption, perceptions of the shopping environment, perceived costs of fruits and vegetables, and food shopping habits.

Results Logistic regression analysis showed that more positive perceptions of the food shopping environment were associated with greater consumption of fruits and vegetables. There was an increase of approximately twofold in the likelihood of consuming three or more fruits and vegetables daily per level of satisfaction ascribed to the shopping environment. This association was independent of perceived cost, store type and sociodemographic characteristics.

Conclusions Our data show that among a generally minority and low-income population, quality, selection and convenience are important determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption. Nutrition promotion campaigns that aim to alter the built environment by increasing access to fruits and vegetables should recognize that simply increasing availability may not yield beneficial change when characteristics of the shopping context are ignored.

(Received June 27 2011)

(Accepted January 17 2012)

(Online publication February 21 2012)


c1 Corresponding author: Email