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

  • Melissa N Laska (a1), Mary O Hearst (a1), Ann Forsyth (a2), Keryn E Pasch (a3) and Leslie Lytle (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 08 June 2010

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


Cross-sectional, observational study.


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


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.


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.


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.

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