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Curriculum Vitae

Comparing Nutrition Environments in Bodegas and Fast-Food Restaurants (2014)

Kathryn M. Neckerman, Laszlo Lovasi, Paulette Yousefzadeh, Daniel Sheehan, Karla Milinkovic, Aileen Baecker, Michael D. M. Bader, Christopher Weiss, Gina S. Lovasi and Andrew Rundle
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, volume 114 issue 4, pp. 595-602
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Many small grocery stores or “bodegas” sell prepared or ready-to-eat items, filling a niche in the food environment similar to fast-food restaurants. However, little comparative information is available about the nutrition environments of bodegas and fast-food outlets. This study compared the nutrition environments of bodegas and national chain fast-food restaurants using a common audit instrument, the Nutrition Environment Measures Study in Restaurants (NEMS-R) protocol. The analytic sample included 109 bodegas and 107 fast-food restaurants located in New York City neighborhoods in the upper third and lower third of the census tract poverty rate distribution. Inter-rater reliability was evaluated in 102 food outlets, including 31 from the analytic sample and 71 from a supplementary convenience sample. The analysis compared scores on individual NEMS-R items, a total summary score, and subscores indicating healthy food availability, nutrition information, promotions of healthy or unhealthy eating, and price incentives for healthy eating, using t tests and χ2 statistics to evaluate differences by outlet type and neighborhood poverty. Fast-food restaurants were more likely to provide nutrition information, and bodegas scored higher on healthy food availability, promotions, and pricing. Bodegas and fast-food restaurants had similar NEMS-R total scores (bodegas 13.09, fast food 14.31; P=0.22). NEMS-R total scores were higher (indicating healthier environments) in low- than high-poverty neighborhoods among both bodegas (14.79 vs 11.54; P=0.01) and fast-food restaurants (16.27 vs 11.60; P<0.01). Results imply different policy measures to improve nutrition environments in the two types of food outlets.