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Associations of built food environment with body mass index and waist circumference among youth with diabetes

Archana P Lamichhane1, Robin Puett123, Dwayne E Porter2, Matteo Bottai1, Elizabeth J Mayer-Davis4 and Angela D Liese1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC, 29208, USA

2 Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA

3 South Carolina Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA

4 Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health and School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2012, 9:81  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-9-81

Published: 29 June 2012

Abstract

Background

Youth with diabetes are at increased risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease complications. However, less is known about the influence of built food environment on health outcomes in this population. The aim of this study was to explore the associations of accessibility and availability of supermarkets and fast food outlets with Body Mass Index (BMI) z-score and waist circumference among youth with diabetes.

Methods

Information on residential location and adiposity measures (BMI z-score and waist circumference) for 845 youths with diabetes residing in South Carolina was obtained from the South Carolina site of the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study. Food outlets data obtained from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and InfoUSA were merged based on names and addresses of the outlets. The comprehensive data on franchised supermarket and fast food outlets was then used to construct three accessibility and availability measures around each youth’s residence.

Results

Increased number and density of chain supermarkets around residence location were associated with lower BMI z-score and waist circumference among youth with diabetes. For instance, for a female child of 10 years of age with height of 54.2 inches and weight of 70.4 pounds, lower supermarket density around residence location was associated with about 2.8–3.2 pounds higher weight, when compared to female child of same age, height and weight with highest supermarket density around residence location. Similarly, lower supermarket density around residence location was associated with a 3.5–3.7 centimeter higher waist circumference, when compared to residence location with the highest supermarket density. The associations of number and density of chain fast food outlets with adiposity measures, however, were not significant. No significant associations were observed between distance to the nearest supermarket and adiposity measures. However, contrary to our expectation, increased distance to the nearest fast food outlet was associated with higher BMI z-score, but not with waist circumference.

Conclusions

Food environments conducive to healthy eating may significantly influence health behaviors and outcomes. Efforts to increase the availability of supermarkets providing options/selections for health-promoting foods may significantly improve the dietary intake and reduce adiposity among youth with diabetes.

Keywords:
Accessibility; Availability; Adiposity; BMI z-score; Waist circumference; Built food environment; Fast food outlet; Supermarket