Associations between food environment typologies and body mass index: Evidence from Yorkshire, England

from Social Science & Medicine at on August 31, 2019 at 03:06PM

Publication date: Available online 31 August 2019

Source: Social Science & Medicine

Author(s): M. Hobbs, M.,A. Green, E. Wilkins, K.E. Lamb, J. McKenna, C. Griffiths


International research linking food outlets and body mass index (BMI) is largely cross-sectional, yielding inconsistent findings. However, addressing the exposure of food outlets is increasingly considered as an important adult obesity prevention strategy. Our study investigates associations between baseline food environment types and change in BMI over time. Survey data were used from the Yorkshire Health Study (n=8,864; wave one: 2010-2012, wave two: 2013-2015) for adults aged 18-86. BMI was calculated using self-reported height (cm) and weight (kg). Restaurants, cafés, fast-food, speciality, convenience and large supermarkets were identified from the Ordnance Survey Point of Interest database within 1600m radial buffer of home postcodes. K-means cluster analysis developed food environment typologies based on food outlets and population density. Large supermarkets, restaurants, cafés, fast-food, speciality and convenience food outlets all clustered together to some extent. Three neighbourhood typologies were identified. However, multilevel models revealed that relative to cluster one all were unrelated to change in BMI (cluster 2, b= -0.146 [-0.274, 0.566]; cluster 3, b= 0.065 [-0.224, 0.356]). There was also little evidence of gender-based differences in these associations when examined in a three-way interaction. Policymakers may need to begin to consider multiple types of food outlet clusters, while further research is needed to confirm how these relate to changed BMI.