Young adult eating and food-purchasing patterns: Food store location and residential proximity

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Background Young adulthood is a critical age for weight gain, yet scant research has examined modifiable contextual influences on weight that could inform age-appropriate interventions. Purpose The aims of this research included describing where young adults eat and purchase food, including distance from home, and estimating the percentage of eating/purchasing locations contained within GIS-generated buffers traditionally used in research. Methods Forty-eight participants (aged 1823 years, n=27 women) represented diverse lifestyle groups. Participants logged characteristics of all eating/drinking occasions (including location) occurring over 7 days (n=1237) using PDAs. In addition, they recorded addresses for stores where they purchased food to bring home. Using GIS, estimates were made of distances between participants' homes and eating/purchasing locations. Data collection occurred in 2008-2009 and data analysis occurred in 2010. Results Among participants living independently or with family (n=36), 59.1% of eating occasions were at home. Away-from-home eating locations averaged 6.7 miles from home; food-shopping locations averaged 3.1 miles from home. Only 12% of away-from-home eating occasions fell within -mile residential buffers, versus 17% within 1 mile and 34% within 2 miles. In addition, 12%, 19%, and 58% of shopping trips fell within these buffers, respectively. Results were similar for participants residing in dormitories. Conclusions Young adults often purchase and eat food outside of commonly used GIS-generated buffers around their homes. This suggests the need for a broader understanding of their food environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-467
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this study was provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) , Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics & Cancer Initiative (NCI Grant 1 U54 CA116849 , Examining the Obesity Epidemic Through Youth, Family & Young Adults, PI: Robert Jeffery). Additional support was provided by Award Number K07CA126837 from NCI (PI: Melissa Nelson Laska). The content of this manuscript does not necessarily represent the official views of the NCI. The NCI did not play a role in designing the study, collecting the data, or analyzing/interpreting the results. The authors thank Anne Samuelson, Pamela Carr, and Dawn Nelson for their assistance with data collection, Andrew Odegaard for his assistance with PDA data programming and processing, and Ann Forsyth for her work in GIS protocol development.

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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