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The mismatch between observational measures and residents’ perspectives on the retail food environment: a mixed-methods approach in the Heart Healthy Hoods study

  • Julia Díez (a1), Roberto Valiente (a1) (a2), Carmen Ramos (a3), Reyes García (a3), Joel Gittelsohn (a4) and Manuel Franco (a1) (a5)...
Abstract
Objective

To gain a deeper understanding of the retail food environment by investigating similarities and differences between objective measures and residents’ perspectives.

Design

The study incorporated Geographic Information System (GIS)-based measures, in-store surveys and the results from a larger photovoice project. We combined these data using a convergent parallel mixed-methods approach.

Setting

We conducted this study in a low-income neighbourhood in Madrid (Spain) in 2016.

Subjects

We assessed healthy food availability, accessibility and affordability using GIS-based measures and in-store audits. We also analysed the photographs and discussions from twelve participants who engaged in a photovoice project on their food environment.

Results

Quantitative results depicted a widely served and highly accessible retail food environment, in which supermarkets scored highest in terms of healthy food availability (36·5 out of 39) and 98·9 % of residents could access a healthy food store within a walking travel distance of less than 15 min. Qualitative results showed that participants preferred small local businesses over supermarkets, and revealed built environment obstacles for elderly residents. They also highlighted how the socio-economic context constrained residents’ food choices.

Conclusions

People’s experienced retail food environment is different from the one quantitatively analysed. Results show the potential of using a mixed-methods approach to enrich food environment research and enhance public health interventions.

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Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Email manuel.franco@uah.es
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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
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