The Influence of Micro Food-Environments on Food Consumption and BMI Outcomes
The rise in obesity rates has increased interest around the “food environment,” or the availability of healthy and unhealthy foods in a community. While there is considerable focus on the influence of food environments, studies that attempt to link “micro” food-environments to eating and weight outcomes are limited in scope. The study attempts to model “micro” food-environments defined as food sources available in close proximity to an individual’s residence. The Capstone team first validated and expanded upon existing national commercial data on food retail and restaurant outlets in two Bronx, NY communities, and then developed a health index to characterize each outlet. Combining food environment characteristics with detailed consumption data for 2,500 Bronx residents, the team assessed to what degree proximity to food sources predicts an individual’s eating patterns and BMI. The results of this study can help shape policy interventions focused on overcoming the obesity epidemic.