Public Health Nutrition

Marketing and communication

Obesogenic neighbourhoods: the impact of neighbourhood restaurants and convenience stores on adolescents’ food consumption behaviours

Meizi Hea1 c1, Patricia Tuckera2, Jennifer D Irwina3, Jason Gillilanda4, Kristian Larsena5 and Paul Hessa5

a1 Department of Health & Kinesiology, The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA

a2 School of Occupational Therapy, Elborn College, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

a3 School of Health Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

a4 Department of Geography, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

a5 Department of Geography and Program in Planning, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada


To examine the relationship between the neighbourhood food environment and dietary intake among adolescents.

Cross-sectional design using: (i) a geographic information system to assess characteristics of the neighbourhood food environment and neighbourhood socio-economic status; (ii) the modified Healthy Eating Index (HEI) to assess participants’ overall diet quality; and (iii) generalized linear models to examine associations between HEI and home and school food environmental correlates.

Mid-sized Canadian city in Ontario, Canada.

Grade 7 and 8 students (n 810) at twenty-one elementary schools.

Students living in neighbourhoods with a lower diversity of land-use types, compared with their higher diversity counterparts, had higher HEI scores (P < 0·05). Students with more than 1 km between their home and the nearest convenience store had higher HEI scores than those living within 1 km (P < 0·01). Students attending schools with a distance further than 1 km from the nearest convenience store (P < 0·01) and fast-food outlet (P < 0·05) had higher HEI scores than those within 1 km. Those attending schools with three or more fast-food outlets within 1 km had lower HEI scores than those attending schools with no fast-food outlet in the school surroundings (P < 0·05).

Close proximity to convenience stores in adolescents’ home environments is associated with low HEI scores. Within adolescents’ school environments, close proximity to convenience and fast-food outlets and a high density of fast-food outlets are associated with low HEI scores.

(Received April 03 2010)

(Accepted January 26 2012)

(Online publication March 06 2012)


  • Child and adolescent health;
  • Environmental health;
  • Nutrition and diet


c1 Corresponding author: Email