Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Neighbourhood fruit and vegetable availability and consumption: the role of small food stores in an urban environment

J Nicholas Bodora1, Donald Rosea1 c1, Thomas A Farleya1, Christopher Swalma1 and Susanne K Scotta2

a1 Department of Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, 1440 Canal Street, Suite 2301, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

a2 College of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA


Objective Previous studies on the relationship of dietary intake to the neighbourhood food environment have focused on access to supermarkets, quantified by geographic distance or store concentration measures. However, in-store food availability may also be an important determinant, particularly for urban neighbourhoods with a greater concentration of small food stores. This study synthesises both types of information – store access and in-store availability – to determine their potential relationship to fruit and vegetable consumption.

Design Residents in four census tracts were surveyed in 2001 about their fruit and vegetable intake. Household distances to food stores in these and surrounding tracts were obtained using geographical information system mapping techniques. In-store fruit and vegetable availability was measured by linear shelf space. Multivariate linear regression models were used to measure the association of these neighbourhood availability measures with consumption.

Setting Four contiguous census tracts in central-city New Orleans.

Subjects A random sample of 102 households.

Results Greater fresh vegetable availability within 100 m of a residence was a positive predictor of vegetable intake; each additional metre of shelf space was associated with 0.35 servings per day of increased intake. Fresh fruit availability was not associated with intake, although having a small food store within this same distance was a marginal predictor of fruit consumption.

Conclusions The findings suggest the possible importance of small neighbourhood food stores and their fresh produce availability in affecting fruit and vegetable intake.

(Received September 15 2006)

(Accepted April 26 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Email