Despite the growth in empirical research on neighborhood environmental characteristics and their influence on children's diets, physical activity, and obesity, much remains to be learned, as few have examined the relationship between neighborhood food availability on dietary behavior in children, specifically. This analysis utilized data from a community-based, cross-sectional sample of children (n = 199) that was collected in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2010. This dataset was linked to food environment data to assess the impact of neighborhood food access as well as household and parent factors on children's diets. We observed a negligible impact of the neighborhood food environment on children's diets, except with respect to fast food, with children who had access to fast food within 500 m around their home significantly less likely (OR = 0.35, 95% CI: 0.1, 0.8) to consume vegetables. Key parental and household factors did play a role in diet, including receipt of public assistance and cooking meals at home. Children receiving public assistance were 2.5 times (95% CI: 1.1, 5.4) more likely to consume fruit more than twice per day compared with children not receiving public assistance. Children whose family cooked dinner at home more than 5 times per week had significantly more consumption of fruit (64% vs. 58%) and vegetables (55% vs. 39%), but less soda (27% vs. 43%). Findings highlight the need for future research that focuses on the dynamic and complex relationships between built and social factors in the communities and homes of children that impact their diet in order to develop multilevel prevention approaches that address childhood obesity.
Keywords: children; diet; family; neighborhood.