Abstract: Measuring Change in Food Retail Environments in Low-Resource Neighborhoods (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

607 Measuring Change in Food Retail Environments in Low-Resource Neighborhoods

Friday, May 31, 2019
Bayview B (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Stephanie Pike, MPH, Research Associate, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Erika Trapl, PhD, Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Morgan Taggart, MUPPD, Director of Agriculture, St.Clair Superior Development Corporation, Cleveland, OH
Bob Leighty, MS, Executive Director, Parsons Avenue Merchants Association, Columbus, OH
Jill Clark, PhD, Associate Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Bethany Bell, PhD, Associate Professor, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Elaine Borawski, PhD, Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Ashwini Sehgal, MD, Director, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Introduction: Current measures of the food environment focus primarily on typological aspects of food retail such as the presence or density of grocery stores and/or corner stores. To better examine how a food retail environment evolves or devolves over time, more granular measures are needed to highlight both individual store change as well as changes across a neighborhood. The purpose of this research was to illuminate these differences using novel methodology.

Methods: Food retailers in two food USDA defined desert neighborhoods in two urban cities in Ohio were evaluated annually for three years (2015-2017) using a tool adapted from the Nutrition Environmental Measures Survey in Corner Stores to quantify availability, price, and quality of 13 different food items with healthy and unhealthy counterparts, as well as the Bridging the Gap-Community Obesity Measures Project (NEMS-CS/BTG-COMP) tool to capture external advertising. Food retailers were identified each year through ground-truthing within specified neighborhood boundaries and audited on the same day of the week within 1 year +/- 2 weeks of their original evaluation.

Results: Overall, 62 food retailers were evaluated at least once in the three years. The majority of these retailers (62.9%) were convenience stores or gas stations. Four retailers (e.g., dollar store, pharmacy, and 2 convenience stores) closed down permanently—1 of which remained vacant—and 4 new retailers (e.g., 2 dollar stores, pharmacy, and convenience store) opened—1 was newly constructed while 3 took the place of a previously closed food retailer. In examining within-store change, on average, retailers saw a 1.4% decrease in healthy foods available in 2016 and a 0.6% increase in 2017. Variety of select healthy foods decreased by 32.5% in 2016 and by 10% in 2017. Prices of healthy foods increased (1.3%) in 2016 but in 2017, the price decreased (-4.5%). Quality remained the same across all three years

Conclusion: Findings highlight local food environments in low-resource neighborhoods are dynamic spaces with stores opening and closing and food options changing. Yet, the net change was limited except for variety of healthy foods available. Over three years, variety of healthy foods decreased. Findings provide guidance for developing tools to evaluate the dynamics of food environments to inform research, policy, and practice.