Environmental factors such as the availability of local-area food stores may be important
contributors to the increasing rate of obesity among U.S. adolescents.
Repeated cross-sections of individual-level data on adolescents drawn from the Monitoring
the Future surveys linked by geocode identifiers to data on food store availability
were used to examine associations between adolescent weight and the availability of
four types of grocery food stores that include chain supermarkets, nonchain supermarkets,
convenience stores, and other grocery stores, holding constant a variety of other
individual- and neighborhood-level influences.
Increased availability of chain supermarkets was statistically significantly associated
with lower adolescent Body Mass Index (BMI) and overweight and that greater availability
of convenience stores was statistically significantly associated with higher BMI and
overweight. The association between supermarket availability and weight was larger
for African-American students compared to white or Hispanic students and larger for
students in households in which the mother worked full time.
Economic and urban planning land use policies which increase the availability of chain
supermarkets may have beneficial effects on youths' weight outcomes.