Associations of neighborhood characteristics with the location and type of food stores

Am J Public Health. 2006 Feb;96(2):325-31. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.058040. Epub 2005 Dec 27.


Objectives: We investigated associations between local food environment and neighborhood racial/ethnic and socioeconomic composition.

Methods: Poisson regression was used to examine the association of food stores and liquor stores with racial/ethnic composition and income in selected census tracts in North Carolina, Maryland, and New York.

Results: Predominantly minority and racially mixed neighborhoods had more than twice as many grocery stores as predominantly White neighborhoods (for predominantly Black tracts, adjusted stores per population ratio [SR]=2.7; 95% confidence interval [CI]=2.2, 3.2; and for mixed tracts, SR=2.2; 95% CI=1.9, 2.7) and half as many supermarkets (for predominantly Black tracts, SR=0.5; 95% CI=0.3, 0.7; and for mixed tracts, SR=0.7; 95% CI=0.5, 1.0, respectively). Low-income neighborhoods had 4 times as many grocery stores as the wealthiest neighborhoods (SR=4.3; 95% CI=3.6, 5.2) and half as many supermarkets (SR=0.5; 95% CI=0.3, 0.8). In general, poorer areas and non-White areas also tended to have fewer fruit and vegetable markets, bakeries, specialty stores, and natural food stores. Liquor stores were more common in poorer than in richer areas (SR=1.3; 95% CI=1.0, 1.6).

Conclusions: Local food environments vary substantially by neighborhood racial/ethnic and socioeconomic composition and may contribute to disparities in health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Choice Behavior
  • Commerce*
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Socioeconomic Factors