Interventions in small food stores to change the food environment, improve diet, and reduce risk of chronic disease

Prev Chronic Dis. 2012;9:E59. Epub 2012 Feb 16.


Introduction: Many small-store intervention trials have been conducted in the United States and other countries to improve the food environment and dietary behaviors associated with chronic disease risk. However, no systematic reviews of the methods and outcomes of these trials have been published. The objective of this study was to identify small-store interventions and to determine their impact on food availability, dietary behaviors, and psychosocial factors that influence chronic disease risk.

Methods: From May 2009 through September 2010, we used PubMed, web-based searches, and listservs to identify small-store interventions that met the following criteria: 1) a focus on small food stores, 2) a completed impact evaluation, and 3) English-written documentation (peer-reviewed articles or other trial documents). We initially identified 28 trials; 16 met inclusion criteria and were used for analysis. We conducted interviews with project staff to obtain additional information. Reviewers extracted and reported data in a table format to ensure comparability between data.

Results: Reviewed trials were implemented in rural and urban settings in 6 countries and primarily targeted low-income racial/ethnic minority populations. Common intervention strategies included increasing the availability of healthier foods (particularly produce), point-of-purchase promotions (shelf labels, posters), and community engagement. Less common strategies included business training and nutrition education. We found significant effects for increased availability of healthy foods, improved sales of healthy foods, and improved consumer knowledge and dietary behaviors.

Conclusion: Trial impact appeared to be linked to the increased provision of both healthy foods (supply) and health communications designed to increase consumption (demand).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control*
  • Commerce*
  • Diet / standards*
  • Food Supply*
  • Humans
  • Poverty