Nearness of supermarkets boosts peoples intake of nutritious fruits and vegetables, study reveals

CHAPEL HILL -- Black Americans' fruit and vegetable intake increased by 32 percent for each additional supermarket in the neighborhoods where they lived, according to a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study.

White Americans' fruit and vegetable consumption increased by 11 percent with the presence of one or more supermarket in their neighborhoods, the study showed.

"We don't know why we saw a larger influence of supermarkets on the diets of black Americans compared to white Americans," said Dr. Kimberly Morland of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. "Based on our previous research showing a lack of private transportation in predominately black neighborhoods, we suspect that white Americans may have a larger geographic area in which to select places to patronize.

"We believe these neighborhood differences may account in part for disparities in diet and illness."

Morland, who led the study, conducted it as part of her doctoral dissertation in epidemiology at UNC. She joined Mt. Sinai in July as assistant professor of epidemiology in the school's community and preventive medicine department after completing her Ph.D.

A report on the findings appears in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Co-authors are Dr. Steven B. Wing, associate professor of epidemiology at UNC, and Ana Diez Roux, assistant professor of general medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and Mailman School of Public Health.

The study relied on data generated by the UNC-based Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, a large, long-term population-based investigation of hardening of the arteries with extensive information on subjects' dietary intakes, among other characteristics, Morland said. Subjects lived in 208 U.S. neighborhoods, or "census tracts," in Washington County, Md.; Forsyth Co., N.C.; Jackson, Miss.; and several Minneapolis subu

Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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