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The present study examined food and beverage distributors’ sourcing, placement and promotion of obesogenic (energy-dense, nutrient-poor) product categories from the perspective of small food store owners/managers. The obesogenic product categories of interest were savoury snacks, sugary beverages, sweet snacks, confectionery and frozen treats. Specifically, we examined how frequently distributors sourced these products, and the types of agreements and expectations they had for their placement and promotion. Differences were explored by store size and ethnicity. Fresh produce was used as a comparison when examining differences in frequency of sourcing only, with implications for healthy food access.
Survey research involving in-person interviews.
Four urban areas in the USA: Baltimore, MD; Durham, NC; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; and San Diego, CA.
Seventy-two small food store owners/managers, 65 % consent rate.
Most distributors sourced obesogenic products weekly. Agreements to place products were predominantly informal (e.g. handshake) with sweet snack, confectionery and frozen treat distributors, and formal (e.g. contract) with savoury snack and sugary beverage distributors. Free-standing displays were the most common incentive provided by distributors and they expected some control over their placement and pricing. Free/discounted products and signage were also common incentives but slotting fees were not. Smaller stores and ethnic stores were less likely to receive various incentives, but among sweet snack distributors, they were more likely to control the price in ethnic v. non-ethnic stores.
Obesogenic products are ubiquitous. Influencing what is made available to consumers in the retail food environment needs to consider the distributor.
Although previous research has shown limited availability of healthy food in low-income urban neighbourhoods, the association between food source use and food-purchasing patterns has not yet been examined. We explored food-purchasing patterns in the context of food source use and food source access factors in low-income areas of Baltimore City.
Predominantly low-income neighbourhoods in East and West Baltimore City.
A total of 175 low-income African-American adult residents.
Supermarkets and corner stores were the most frequently used food sources. Walking was the main form of transportation used by 57 % of all respondents, 97 % of corner-store shoppers and 49 % of supermarket shoppers. Multiple linear regression models adjusting for demographic factors, type of food source used and transportation type found that corner-store use was associated with obtaining more unhealthy food (P = 0·005), whereas driving to the food source was associated with obtaining more healthy food (P = 0·012).
The large number of corner stores compared with supermarkets in low-income neighbourhoods makes them an easily accessible and frequently used food source for many people. Interventions to increase the availability and promotion of healthy food in highly accessed corner stores in low-income neighbourhoods are needed. Increased access to transportation may also lead to the use of food sources beyond the corner store, and to increased healthy food purchasing.
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