Access to Healthy Food Stores Modifies Effect of a Dietary Intervention

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition | Preventive Medicine


BACKGROUND: Recent evidence suggests that opening a grocery store in a food desert does not translate to better diet quality among community residents.

PURPOSE: This study evaluated the influence of proximity to a healthy food store on the effect of a dietary behavioral intervention on diet among obese adults randomized to either a high fiber or American Heart Association diet intervention.

METHODS: Participants were recruited from Worcester County, Massachusetts, between June 2009 and January 2012. Dietary data were collected via 24-hour recalls at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months post-intervention. Based on in-store inspection data, a store was considered as having adequate availability of healthy foods if it had at least one item available in each of 20 healthy food categories. Linear models evaluated maximum change in dietary outcomes in relation to road distance from residence to the nearest June healthy food store. The analysis was conducted in January to June 2014.

RESULTS: On average, participants (N = 204) were aged 52 years, BMI = 34.9, and included 72% women and 89% non-Hispanic whites. Shorter distance to a healthy food store was associated with greater improvements in consumption of fiber (b = -1.07 g/day per mile, p < 0.01) and fruits and vegetables (b = -0.19 servings/day per mile, p = 0.03) with and without covariate adjustment.

CONCLUSIONS: The effectiveness of dietary interventions is significantly influenced by the presence of a supportive community nutrition environment. Considering the nationwide efforts on promotion of healthy eating, the value of improving community access to healthy foods should not be underestimated.

Clinical Trial Registration Number: NCT00911885. Inc. All rights reserved.

DOI of Published Version



Am J Prev Med. 2015 Mar;48(3):309-317. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.08.020. Epub 2014 Oct 7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American journal of preventive medicine

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID