Objective and self-reported factors associated with food-environment perceptions and fruit-and-vegetable consumption: a multilevel analysis.Prev Chronic Dis. 2014 Mar 27; 11:E47.PC
Few studies have assessed how people's perceptions of their neighborhood environment compare with objective measures or how self-reported and objective neighborhood measures relate to consumption of fruits and vegetables.
A telephone survey of 4,399 residents of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, provided data on individuals, their households, their neighborhoods (self-defined), their food-environment perceptions, and their fruit-and-vegetable consumption. Other data on neighborhoods (census tracts) or "extended neighborhoods" (census tracts plus 1-quarter-mile buffers) came from the US Census Bureau, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, and the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Mixed-effects multilevel logistic regression models examined associations between food-environment perceptions, fruit-and-vegetable consumption, and individual, household, and neighborhood characteristics.
Perceptions of neighborhood food environments (supermarket accessibility, produce availability, and grocery quality) were strongly associated with each other but not consistently or significantly associated with objective neighborhood measures or self-reported fruit-and-vegetable consumption. We found racial and educational disparities in fruit-and-vegetable consumption, even after adjusting for food-environment perceptions and individual, household, and neighborhood characteristics. Having a supermarket in the extended neighborhood was associated with better perceived supermarket access (adjusted odds ratio for having a conventional supermarket, 2.04 [95% CI, 1.68-2.46]; adjusted odds ratio for having a limited-assortment supermarket, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.02-1.59]) but not increased fruit-and-vegetable consumption. Models showed some counterintuitive associations with neighborhood crime and public transportation.
We found limited association between objective and self-reported neighborhood measures. Sociodemographic differences in individual fruit-and-vegetable consumption were evident regardless of neighborhood environment. Adding supermarkets to urban neighborhoods might improve residents' perceptions of supermarket accessibility but might not increase their fruit-and-vegetable consumption.