Obesity-Promoting Food Environments and the Spatial Clustering of Food Outlets Around Schools

Department of Geography, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.
American journal of preventive medicine (Impact Factor: 4.53). 02/2011; 40(2):113-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.10.018
Source: PubMed


The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in school-aged children is potentially linked to contextual influences such as the food environment around schools. The proximity of fast-food and convenience stores to schools may enhance access to unhealthy foods and have a negative impact on diet.
This study used spatial cluster analysis to determine whether food outlets are clustered around schools and evaluated the extent of food outlet clustering by school and school neighborhood sociodemographic characteristics.
The locations in 2008 of all schools, fast-food outlets, and convenience stores in five urban regions across New Zealand were geocoded. Using GIS analysis conducted in 2009, the number and proportion of outlets within 400-m and 800-m road distance around each school was calculated. The spatial clustering of food outlets within 1.5 km of schools was determined using a multi-type K-function. Food outlet type, school level, SES, the degree of population density, and commercial land use zoning around each school were compared.
Primary/intermediate schools had a total proportion of 19.3 outlets per 1000 students within 800 m compared to 6.6 for secondary schools. The most socially deprived quintile of schools had three times the number and proportion of food outlets compared to the least-deprived quintile. There was a high degree of clustering of food outlets around schools, with up to 5.5 times more outlets than might be expected. Outlets were most clustered up to 800 m from schools and around secondary schools, socially deprived schools, and schools in densely populated and commercially zoned areas.
Food environments in New Zealand within walking proximity to schools are characterized by a high density of fast-food outlets and convenience stores, particularly in more-socially deprived settings. These obesogenic environments provide ready access to obesity-promoting foods that may have a negative impact on student diet and contribute to inequalities in health.

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    • "The exact properties and impacts of obesogenic environments are becoming better understood through a growing body of research, including how these elements operate in different contexts (Kirk, Penney , & McHugh, 2010; Lake & Townshend, 2006). While research has explored the obesogenic nature of neighborhoods around places such as homes, schools, and worksites (Day & Pearce, 2011; Hoehner et al., 2013; Moore et al., 2013), to our knowledge, little similar attention has been focused on the areas around parks. parks located in low-, medium-, and high-income neighborhoods and low, medium, and high racial/ethnic minority areas differed with respect to • the types of land uses adjacent to the park (e.g., commercial, industrial, institutional, natural , residential); • the density of types of incivilities in the area bordering the park (e.g., litter, graffiti, vandal- ism); • the density of fast food restaurants within a ½ mile buffer around the park; and • the density of unhealthy retail establishments (e.g., alcohol and/or tobacco shops, bars) within a ½ mile buffer around the park. "
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    ABSTRACT: Parks are important resources for facilitating community health. Using an environmental justice framework, this study in Kansas City, Missouri examined disparities by income and race/ethnicity for bordering land uses, densities of incivilities (e.g., vandalism, litter), unhealthy retail establishments in neighborhoods surrounding parks. Low and medium income and high minority park neighborhoods were more likely to be surrounded by higher densities of incivilities and to have a moderate density of FF restaurants. Low-income park neighborhoods were five times more likely to have a moderate density of other unhealthy establishments compared to parks in high-income areas. Future research and environmental justice efforts should explore policies that reduce unhealthy characteristics of park neighborhoods to encourage increased usage of these important community settings.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Journal of Leisure Research
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    • "A recent study in New Zealand looked at the location of food outlets around schools in five of the country's urban centres. They found that there was a high degree of clustering of food outlets around secondary schools, with up to six times more outlets than might be expected compared to other areas without schools (Day and Pearce, 2011). However, this study did not look at associations between the proximity of these food outlets to schools and food choices of the students. "
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    ABSTRACT: Using a sample of adolescents from schools in Otago, New Zealand, associations between food outlets around schools and dietary quality were investigated. Food outlet environment data were derived using GIS data. Multivariate regression analysis results showed that outlet density, in an 800m buffer around schools, of cafes and restaurants, supermarkets and takeaways was associated with higher Diet Quality Index scores in boys, and distance to nearest outlet for convenience stores, cafes and restaurants and supermarkets with lower scores for girls. Effect sizes were small, suggesting that the food environment around schools plays a minor role in adolescent diet quality.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Health & Place
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    • "There is a growing body of research examining the food environments around schools, much of which focuses on the distance between food stores and fast food restaurants and schools (Austin et al., 2005; Day and Pearce, 2011; Jennings et al., 2011; Kestens and Daniel, 2010; Robitaille et al., 2010; Skidmore et al., 2009; Frank et al., 2006; Seliske et al., 2009). A greater density of fast-food restaurants or convenience stores around schools in lower socio-economic status (SES) neighbourhoods has been found in various communities in Canada and elsewhere (Day and Pearce, 2011; Kestens and Daniel, 2010; Robitaille et al., 2010). The distance to and density of fast-food restaurants have been associated with children's poorer food choice (Skidmore et al., 2009) and increased weight status (Jennings et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: We examined location-related accessibility to healthy and unhealthy food sources for school going children in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We compared proximity to food sources from school sites and from small clusters of homes (i.e., dissemination blocks) as a proxy for home location. We found that 1) unhealthy food sources are more prevalent near schools in lower income than higher income neighbourhoods; 2) unhealthy compared to healthy food sources are more accessible from schools as well as from places of residence; and 3) while some characteristics of neighbourhood low socio-economic status are associated with less accessibility to healthy food sources, there is no consistent pattern of access. Greater access to unhealthy food sources from schools in low-income neighbourhoods is likely a reflection of the greater degree of commercialization. Our spatial examination provides a more nuanced understanding of accessibility through our approach of comparing place of residence and school access to food sources.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology
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