, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 327-335
Date: 17 Sep 2013

Comparing Sugary Drinks in the Food Retail Environment in Six NYC Neighborhoods

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Obesity is a national public health concern linked to numerous chronic health conditions among Americans of all age groups. Evidence suggests that discretionary calories from sugary drink consumption have been a significant contributor to excess caloric intake among both children and adults. Research has established strong links between retail food environments and purchasing habits of consumers, but little information exists on the sugary drink retail environment in urban neighborhoods. The objective of this assessment was to compare various aspects of the sugary drink retail environment across New York City (NYC) neighborhoods with disparate self-reported sugary drink consumption patterns. In-store retail audits were conducted at 883 corner stores, chain pharmacies, and grocery stores in 12 zip codes throughout NYC. Results showed that among all beverage types assessed, sugary drinks had the most prominent presence in the retail environment overall, which was even more pronounced in higher-consumption neighborhoods. In higher- versus lower-consumption neighborhoods, the mean number of sugary drink varieties available at stores was higher (11.4 vs. 10.4 varieties), stores were more likely to feature sugary drink advertising (97 vs. 89 %) and advertising at multiple places throughout the store (78 vs. 57 %), and several sugary drinks, including 20-oz Coke® or Pepsi®, were less expensive ($1.38 vs. $1.60). These results, all statistically significant, indicate that neighborhoods characterized by higher levels of sugary drink consumption expose shoppers to sugary drinks to a greater extent than lower-consumption neighborhoods. This builds upon evidence documenting the association between the environment and individual behavior.