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Obesity and the Food Environment: Income and Ethnicity Differences Among People With Diabetes: The Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE)

It is unknown whether any association between neighborhood food environment and obesity varies according to individual income and/or race/ethnicity. The objectives of this study were to test whether there was an association between food environments and obesity among adults with diabetes and whether this relationship differed according to individual income or race/ethnicity. Subjects (n = 16,057) were participants in the Diabetes Study of Northern California survey. Kernel density estimation was used to create a food environment score for each individual’s residence address that reflected the mix of healthful and unhealthful food vendors nearby. Logistic regression models estimated the association between the modeled food environment and obesity, controlling for confounders, and testing for interactions between food environment and race/ethnicity and income. The authors found that more healthful food environments were associated with lower obesity in the highest income groups (incomes 301-600% and >600% of U.S. poverty line) among whites, Latinos, and Asians. The association was negative, but smaller and not statistically significant, among high-income blacks. On the contrary, a more healthful food environment was associated with higher obesity among participants in the lowest-income group (<100% poverty threshold), which was statistically significant for black participants in this income category. These findings suggest that the availability of healthful food environments may have different health implications when financial resources are severely constrained.

Authors: Jones-Smith JC; Karter AJ; Warton EM; Kelly M; Kersten E; Moffet HH; Adler N; Schillinger D; Laraia BA

Diabetes Care. 2013 Sep;36(9):2697-705. Epub 2013-05-01.

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