Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 90, Issue 4, pp 653-666

First online:

Food Availability en Route to School and Anthropometric Change in Urban Children

  • Lauren M. RossenAffiliated withAnalysis and Epidemiology, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Email author 
  • , Frank C. CurrieroAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Health and the Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • , Michele Cooley-StricklandAffiliated withDepartment of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCenter for Culture and Health, Department of Psychiatry, NPI-Semel Institute for Neuroscience, University of California
  • , Keshia M. PollackAffiliated withDepartment of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

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This study examined food availability along children’s paths to and from elementary school, and associations with change in body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference over 1 year. Secondary data from 319 children aged 8–13 years from the “Multiple Opportunities to Reach Excellence” Project was used. Child anthropometry and demographic variables were obtained at baseline (2007) and 1 year follow-up. Food outlet locations (n = 1,410) were obtained from the Baltimore City Health Department and validated by ground-truthing. Secondary data on healthy food availability within select food stores in Baltimore City in 2007 were obtained via a validated food environment assessment measure, the Nutrition Environments Measures Study. Multilevel models were used to examine associations between availability of healthy food and number of various food outlets along paths to school and child anthropometric change over 1 year. Controlling for individual-, neighborhood-, and school-level characteristics, results indicated that higher healthy food availability within a 100 m buffer of paths to school was associated with 0.15 kg/m2 lower BMI gain (p = 0.015) and 0.47 cm smaller waist circumference gain (p = 0.037) over 1 year. Although prior research has illuminated the importance of healthy food choices within school and home environments, the current study suggests that exposure to the food environment along paths to school should be further explored in relation to child health outcomes.


Obesity Healthy food Weight Body weight changes Adiposity Abdominal Youth Food environment Anthropometry Overweight