One-Year Follow-Up Examination of the Impact of the North Carolina Healthy Food Small Retailer Program on Healthy Food Availability, Purchases, and Consumption

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Nov 28;15(12):2681. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15122681.


We examined the short-term impact of the North Carolina Healthy Food Small Retailer Program (HFSRP), a legislatively appropriated bill providing funding up to $25,000 to small food retailers for equipment to stock and promote healthier foods, on store-level availability and purchase of healthy foods and beverages, as well as customer dietary patterns, one year post-policy implementation. We evaluated healthy food availability using a validated audit tool, purchases using customer bag-checks, and diet using self-reported questionnaires and skin carotenoid levels, assessed via Veggie Meter™, a non-invasive tool to objectively measure fruit and vegetable consumption. Difference-in-difference analyses were used to examine changes in HFSRP stores versus control stores after 1 year. There were statistically significant improvements in healthy food supply scores (availability), with the Healthy Food Supply HFS score being -0.44 points lower in control stores and 3.13 points higher in HFSRP stores pre/post HFSRP (p = 0.04). However, there were no statistically significant changes in purchases or self-reported consumption or skin carotenoids among customers in HFSRP versus control stores. Additional time or other supports for retailers (e.g., marketing and promotional materials) may be needed for HFSRP implementation to influence purchase and consumption.

Keywords: food deserts; health disparities; nutrition policy; rural populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Beverages
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Diet
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Food Preferences
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fruit / economics
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • North Carolina
  • Vegetables / economics