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Neighbourhood deprivation and outlet density for tobacco, alcohol and fast food: first hints of obesogenic and addictive environments in Germany

  • Sven Schneider (a1) and Johannes Gruber (a2) (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 10 July 2012

The current discussion regarding ‘place effects on health’ is increasingly focusing on the characteristics of a specific physical environment. Our study investigated whether socially deprived residential areas are more likely than affluent neighbourhoods to provide access to addictive substances and fast food.


In this ecological study the total number of tobacco, alcohol and fast-food outlets was recorded and visualized using a geographic information system. Area affluence was measured through the percentage of parents with children of kindergarten or school age with joint annual taxable income <€12 272.


Eighteen social areas in Cologne, Germany.


All social areas in four districts in Cologne, Germany, with a total of 92 000 inhabitants, were analysed.


In the investigation area, 339 tobacco, 353 alcohol and sixty-seven fast-food outlets were identified. As area affluence declined the availability of the following potentially health damaging sources increased: cigarettes (Kendall's tau = 0·433; P = 0·012), alcohol (Kendall's tau = 0·341, P = 0·049) and fast food (Kendall's tau = 0·473; P = 0·009).


The availability of addictive substances and fast food can be seen to have a contextual influence on an individual's lifestyle and can, in the form of physical exposure to obesogenic and addictive environments, contribute to a culmination of health risks.

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