Introduction Shopping at small food stores, such as corner stores and convenience stores, is linked with unhealthful food and beverage purchases, poor diets, and high risk of obesity. However, information on how foods and beverages are marketed at small stores is limited. The objective of this study was to examine advertisements and product placements for healthful and less healthful foods and beverages at small stores in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Methods We conducted in-store audits of 119 small and nontraditional food retailers (corner/small grocery stores, food-gas marts, pharmacies, and dollar stores) randomly selected from licensing lists in Minneapolis- St. Paul in 2014. We analyzed data on exterior and interior advertisements of foods and beverages and product placement. Results Exterior and interior advertisements for healthful foods and beverages were found in less than half of stores (exterior, 37% [44 of 119]; interior, 20% [24 of 119]). Exterior and interior advertisements for less healthful items were found in approximately half of stores (exterior, 46% [55 of 119]); interior, 66% [78 of 119]). Of the 4 store types, food-gas marts were most likely to have exterior and interior advertisements for both healthful and less healthful items. Corner/small grocery stores and dollar stores had fewer advertisements of any type. Most stores (77%) had at least 1 healthful item featured as an impulse buy (ie, an item easily reached at checkout), whereas 98% featured at least 1 less healthful item as an impulse buy. Conclusion Findings suggest imbalanced advertising and product placement of healthful and less healthful foods and beverages at small food stores in Minneapolis-St. Paul; less healthful items were more apt to be featured as impulse buys. Future interventions and polices should encourage reductions in advertisements and impulse-buy placements of unhealthful products, particularly in food-gas marts, and encourage advertisements of healthful products.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study involved secondary data analyses of formative, prebaseline data of food retailers collected for a larger policy evaluation (R01-DK104348-01A1), the STORE study. Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award no. R01DK104348 (principal investigator, M. Laska). Additional funding for prebaseline work was funded by the University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, as well as the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins, which is supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health under award no. U54HD070725. Further salary support provided to Dr Caspi as a postdoctoral fellow was provided by NIH grant no. 5R25CA163184: National Cancer Institute's Cancer Related Health Disparities Education and Career Development Program and database support was provided by UL1TR000114 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors.