Examining the consumer restaurant environment and dietary intake in children

Prev Med Rep. 2020 Dec 2;20:101274. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2020.101274. eCollection 2020 Dec.

Abstract

Within the away-from-home food environment there is a need to account for individual exposure (e.g., frequency of visitation) to that environment. The present study examined the consumer environment in both proximal and visited restaurants and their association with childrens' diet quality and anthropometrics. A cross-sectional analysis used baseline data from the Neighborhood Impact on Kids (NIK) study (2007-2009). Participants were 6-12-year-olds living in King County, WA and San Diego County, CA. This analysis (conducted 2019-2020) examined relationships between nearby restaurant count, Nutrition Environment Measures Survey in Restaurants (NEMS-R) within the child's block group, and weighted NEMS-R scores based on the restaurant where the child ate most frequently in relation to child energy intake, Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2010) total score and anthropometrics. Children's HEI-2010 scores were associated with NEMS-R scores within block groups, with children in the lowest NEMS-R tertile having significantly higher HEI scores than participants in the middle tertile. Weighted NEMS-R scores were significantly associated with waist circumference, with children in the highest NEMS-R tertile having a lower waist circumference than children in the lowest tertile. Nearby restaurant count was not associated with children's diet quality or anthropometrics. Our findings suggest the relationship between nutrition environment and child diet and anthropometrics varied depending on how nutrition environment was defined. However, findings may be limited by the low frequency of eating out reported in this sample. Food environment measures that account for individual-level behavior are needed to better understand the influence of food environments on diet and anthropometrics.

Keywords: Child weight; Diet quality; NEMS-R; Nutrition environment.