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Perceived and Observed Food Environments, Eating Behaviors, and BMI

  • Julia M. Alber
    Affiliations
    Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • Sarah H. Green
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Sarah H. Green, MPH, Center for Health Behavior Research, University of Pennsylvania, 802 Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia PA 19104
    Affiliations
    Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • Karen Glanz
    Affiliations
    Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Published:January 12, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2017.10.024

      Introduction

      This study examines relationships between perceived and observed nutrition environments, diet, and BMI, in order to examine the criterion validity of the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey–Perceived (NEMS–P).

      Methods

      In a cross-sectional study, perceived nutrition environments were assessed (NEMS-P) among 221 adults from four neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area in 2010 and 2011. A total of 158 food store environments were observed using the NEMS–Stores. Data analyses were conducted in 2016. Bivariate Spearman rank correlations were used to examine relationships between perceived and observed availability, quality, and price of fruits and vegetables in respondents’ neighborhoods. Linear regression models were used to examine relationships between perceived neighborhood and home food environments and daily fruit and vegetable consumption and BMI.

      Results

      A significant, positive relationship was found between perceived and observed availability of fruits and vegetables in the neighborhood (r = 0.36, p<0.001). A similar relationship was seen between perceived and observed quality of fruits and vegetables (r = 0.34, p<0.001). Perceived availability and quality of fruits and vegetables in the neighborhood, and availability and accessibility of fruits and vegetables in the home, were significantly related to daily fruit and vegetable consumption. Perceived price of food in the neighborhood was significantly associated with BMI.

      Conclusions

      Responses to a self-reported survey to assess perceived food environments related to fruits and vegetables were significantly associated with observed nutrition environments, fruit and vegetable consumption, and BMI. The perceived prices of fruits and vegetables were modestly associated with BMI and warrant further testing in prospective studies. When observations of food environments are not feasible, residents’ survey responses are an acceptable indicator, with reasonable criterion validity.
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