Assessments of residential and global positioning system activity space for food environments, body mass index and blood pressure among low-income housing residents in New York City

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Kosuke Tamura *
Brian Elbel
Jessica K. Athens
Pasquale E. Rummo
Basile Chaix
Seann D. Regan
Yazan A. Al-Ajlouni
Dustin T. Duncan
(*) Corresponding Author:
Kosuke Tamura |


Research has examined how the food environment affects the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Many studies have focused on residential neighbourhoods, neglecting the activity spaces of individuals. The objective of this study was to investigate whether food environments in both residential and global positioning system (GPS)-defined activity space buffers are associated with body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure (BP) among low-income adults. Data came from the New York City Low Income Housing, Neighborhoods and Health Study, including BMI and BP data (n=102, age=39.3±14.1 years), and one week of GPS data. Five food environment variables around residential and GPS buffers included: fast-food restaurants, wait-service restaurants, corner stores, grocery stores, and supermarkets. We examined associations between food environments and BMI, systolic and diastolic BP, controlling for individual- and neighbourhood-level sociodemographics and population density. Within residential buffers, a higher grocery store density was associated with lower BMI (β=- 0.20 kg/m2, P<0.05), and systolic and diastolic BP (β =-1.16 mm Hg; and β=-1.02 mm Hg, P<0.01, respectively). In contrast, a higher supermarket density was associated with higher systolic and diastolic BP (β=1.74 mm Hg, P<0.05; and β=1.68, P<0.01, respectively) within residential buffers. In GPS neighbourhoods, no associations were documented. Examining how food environments are associated with CVD risk and how differences in relationships vary by buffer types have the potential to shed light on determinants of CVD risk. Further research is needed to investigate these relationships, including refined measures of spatial accessibility/exposure, considering individual’s mobility.

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