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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.
Restaurants are playing an increasingly important role in children’s dietary intake. Interventions to promote healthy ordering in restaurants have primarily targeted adults. Much remains unknown about how to influence ordering for and by children. Using an ecological lens, the present study sought to identify sources of influence on ordering behaviour for and by children in restaurants.
A mixed-methods study was conducted using unobtrusive observations of dining parties with children and post-order interviews. Observational data included: child’s gender, person ordering for the child and server interactions with the dining party. Interview data included: child’s age, restaurant visit frequency, timing of child’s decision making, and factors influencing decision making.
Ten independent, table-service restaurants in San Diego, CA, USA participated.
Complete observational and interview data were obtained from 102 dining parties with 150 children (aged 3–14 years).
Taste preferences, family influences and menus impacted ordering. However, most children knew what they intended to order before arriving at the restaurant, especially if they dined there at least monthly. Furthermore, about one-third of children shared their meals with others and all shared meals were ordered from adult (v. children’s) menus. Parents placed most orders, although parental involvement in ordering was less frequent with older children. Servers interacted frequently with children but generally did not recommend menu items or prompt use of the children’s menu.
Interventions to promote healthy ordering should consider the multiple sources of influence that are operating when ordering for and by children in restaurants.
The present store-based intervention was designed to promote sales of fruits and vegetables (F&V) to increase intake among store customers – specifically customers of tiendas, small-to-medium-sized Latino food stores.
Four tiendas were randomized to a 2-month environmental change intervention or a delayed treatment control condition. Employees and managers were trained to promote F&V sales, including how to implement a food marketing campaign and installing store equipment to promote fresh fruits and vegetables. The primary outcome was self-reported daily intake of F&V among a convenience sample of customers (at least forty per store) collected at baseline prior to randomization and then 4 months later. In addition, changes in availability of F&V in the tiendas, using unobtrusive observational methods, provided evidence of intervention fidelity.
Tiendas in central North Carolina.
Participants included 179 customers who were recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America.
A group-by-time interaction approached significance on daily servings of F&V; intervention customers reported an increase in F&V intake over time and as a function of the intervention (P ≤ 0·06). Unexpectedly, self-efficacy for consuming more fruits (P ≤ 0·01) and more vegetables (P ≤ 0·06) decreased. In our store-level analyses, a group-by-time interaction was observed for availability of fresh and canned vegetables; the intervention increased availability of vegetables but not fruit.
Environmental change strategies to promote healthy eating are needed given the rates of obesity and diabetes in the Latino population. A store-based intervention was moderately effective at increasing customers’ reported F&V intake. Such strategies can have a public health impact on underserved populations.
The present study assessed the impact of the 2009 food packages mandated by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) on perceived sales, product selection and stocking habits of small, WIC-authorized food stores.
A cross-sectional study involving in-depth interviews with store managers/owners.
Small, WIC-authorized food stores in eight major cities in the USA.
Fifty-two store managers/owners who had at least 1 year of experience in the store prior to study participation.
The WIC-approved food products (fresh, canned and frozen fruits; fresh, canned and frozen vegetables; wholegrain/whole-wheat bread; white corn/whole-wheat tortillas; brown rice; lower-fat milk (<2 %)) were acquired in multiple ways, although acquisition generally occurred 1–2 times/week. Factors such as customer requests (87 %), refrigerator/freezer availability (65 %) and profitability (71 %) were rated as very important when making stocking decisions. Most managers/owners perceived increases in sales of new WIC-approved foods including those considered most profitable (wholegrain/whole-wheat bread (89 %), lower-fat milk (89 %), white corn/whole wheat tortillas (54 %)), but perceived no changes in sales of processed fruits and vegetables. Supply mechanisms and frequency of supply acquisition were only moderately associated with perceived sales increases.
Regardless of type or frequency of supply acquisition, perceived increases in sales provided some evidence for the potential sustainability of these WIC policy efforts and translation of this policy-based strategy to other health promotion efforts aimed at improving healthy food access in underserved communities.
To compare non-ethnically based supermarkets and Latino grocery stores (tiendas) in a lower-income region with regard to the availability, quality and cost of several healthy v. unhealthy food items.
A cross-sectional study conducted by three independent observers to audit twenty-five grocery stores identified as the main source of groceries for 80 % of Latino families enrolled in a childhood obesity study. Stores were classified as supermarkets and tiendas on the basis of key characteristics.
South San Diego County.
Ten tiendas and fifteen supermarkets.
Tiendas were smaller than supermarkets (five v. twelve aisles, P = 0·003). Availability of fresh produce did not differ by store type; quality differed for one fruit item. Price per unit (pound or piece) was lower in tiendas for most fresh produce. The cost of meeting the US Department of Agriculture's recommended weekly servings of produce based on an 8368 kJ (2000 kcal)/d diet was $US 3·00 lower in tiendas compared with supermarkets (P < 0·001). The cost of 1 gallon of skimmed milk was significantly higher in tiendas ($US 3·29 v. $US 2·69; P = 0·005) and lean (7 % fat) ground beef was available in only one tienda (10 %) compared with ten (67 %) supermarkets (P = 0·01).
Barriers remain in the ability to purchase healthier dairy and meat options in tiendas; the same is not true for produce. These results highlight the potential that tiendas have in improving access to quality, fresh produce within lower-income communities. However, efforts are needed to increase the access and affordability of healthy dairy and meat products.
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