Neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics, the retail environment, and alcohol consumption: A multilevel analysis

Scott T. Shimotsu, Rhonda J. Jones-Webb, Richard F. MacLehose, Toben F. Nelson, Jean L. Forster, Leslie A. Lytle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: The neighborhoods where people live can influence their drinking behavior. We hypothesized that living in a neighborhood with lower median income, higher alcohol outlet density, and only liquor stores and no grocery stores would be associated with higher alcohol consumption after adjusting for individual demographic and lifestyle factors. Methods: We used two self-report measures to assess alcohol consumption in a sample of 9959 adults living in a large Midwestern county: volume of alcohol consumed (count) and binge drinking (5 or more drinks vs.<. 5 drinks). We measured census tract median annual household income based on U.S. Census data. Alcohol outlet density was measured using the number of liquor stores divided by the census tract roadway miles. The mix of liquor and food stores in census tracts was assessed using a categorical variable based on the number of liquor and number of food stores using data from InfoUSA. Weighted hierarchical linear and Poisson regression were used to test our study hypothesis. Results: Retail mix was associated with binge drinking. Individuals living in census tracts with only liquor stores had a 46% higher risk of binge drinking than individuals living in census tracts with food stores only after controlling for demographic and lifestyle factors. Conclusion: Census tract characteristics such as retail mix may partly explain variability in drinking behavior. Future research should explore the mix of stores, not just the over-concentration of liquor stores in census tracts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-456
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol outlet density
  • Binge drinking
  • Neighborhood characteristics
  • Retail environment


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