Effects of Buffer Size and Shape on the Association of Neighborhood SES and Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

Front Public Health. 2021 Nov 10;9:706151. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.706151. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Neighborhood environment factors are relevant for dietary behaviors, but associations between home neighborhood context and disease prevention behaviors vary depending on the definition of neighborhood. The present study uses a publicly available dataset to examine whether associations between neighborhood socioeconomic status (NSES) and fruit/vegetable (FV) consumption vary when NSES is defined by different neighborhood sizes and shapes. Methods: We analyzed data from 1,736 adults with data in GeoFLASHE, a geospatial extension of the National Cancer Institute's Family Life, Activity, Sun, Health, and Eating Study (FLASHE). We examined correlations of NSES values across neighborhood buffer shapes (circular or street network) and sizes (ranging from 400 to 1,200 m) and ran weighted simple and multivariable regressions modeling frequency of FV consumption by NSES for each neighborhood definition. Regressions were also stratified by gender. Results: NSES measures were highly correlated across various neighborhood buffer definitions. In models adjusted for socio-demographics, circular buffers of all sizes and street buffers 750 m and larger were significantly associated with FV consumption frequency for women only. Conclusion: NSES may be particularly relevant for women's FV consumption, and further research can examine whether these associations are explained by access to food stores, food shopping behavior, and/or psychosocial variables. Although different NSES buffers are highly correlated, researchers should conceptually determine spatial areas a priori.

Keywords: diet; environment; fruit and vegetables; geospatial research; socioeconomic factors.