Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC – Environment, nutrition and sustainability

Neighbourhood food environments: are they associated with adolescent dietary intake, food purchases and weight status?

Melissa N Laskaa1 c1, Mary O Hearsta1, Ann Forsytha2, Keryn E Pascha3 and Leslie Lytlea1

a1 Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South 2nd Street, WBOB Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA

a2 Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

a3 Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA


Objective To examine neighbourhood food environments, adolescent nutrition and weight status.

Design Cross-sectional, observational study.

Setting Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan region, Minnesota, USA.

Subjects A total of 349 adolescents were recruited to the study. Participants completed 24 h dietary recalls and had their weight and height measured. They also reported demographic information and other diet-related behaviours. Geographic Information Systems were used to examine the availability and proximity of food outlets, particularly those captured within the 800, 1600 and/or 3000 m network buffers around participants’ homes and schools.

Results Adjusting for gender, age and socio-economic status, adolescents’ sugar-sweetened beverage intake was associated with residential proximity to restaurants (including fast food), convenience stores, grocery stores and other retail facilities within the 800 and/or 1600 m residential buffers (P ≤ 0·01). BMI Z-score and percentage body fat were positively associated with the presence of a convenience store within a 1600 m buffer. Other individual-level factors, such as energy, fruit and vegetable intake, as well as convenience store and fast food purchasing, were not significantly associated with features of the residential neighbourhood food environment in adjusted models. In addition, school neighbourhood environments yielded few associations with adolescent outcomes.

Conclusions Many factors are likely to have an important role in influencing adolescent dietary intake and weight status. Interventions aimed at increasing neighbourhood access to healthy foods, as well as other approaches, are needed.

(Received December 01 2009)

(Accepted April 22 2010)

(Online publication June 08 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email