Background: The effectiveness of food retail interventions is largely undetermined, yet substantial investments have been made to improve access to healthy foods in food deserts and swamps via grocery and corner store interventions. This study evaluated the effects of corner store conversions in East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, California on perceived accessibility of healthy foods, perceptions of corner stores, store patronage, food purchasing, and eating behaviors.
Methods: Household data (n = 1686) were collected at baseline and 12- to 24-months post-intervention among residents surrounding eight stores, three of which implemented a multi-faceted intervention and five of which were comparisons. Bivariate analyses and logistic and linear regressions were employed to assess differences in time, treatment, and the interaction between time and treatment to determine the effectiveness of this intervention.
Results: Improvements were found in perceived healthy food accessibility and perceptions of corner stores. No changes were found, however, in store patronage, purchasing, or consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Conclusions: Results suggest limited effectiveness of food retail interventions on improving health behaviors. Future research should focus on other strategies to reduce community-level obesity.
Keywords: Corner store; Food deserts; Food environment; Food policy; Food supply; Healthy food availability; Hispanic Americans; Latinos; Obesity; Urban health.