Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 88, Issue 4, pp 616–622 | Cite as

Convenience Stores Surrounding Urban Schools: An Assessment of Healthy Food Availability, Advertising, and Product Placement



Adolescent obesity is a national public health problem, particularly among urban populations. Recent evidence has linked neighborhood food environments to health and nutrition status, with easier access to convenience stores being associated with increased risk for obesity. Little is known about the availability of healthy purchasing options within small, urban food stores, or the extent to which these factors are relevant to youth. The objective of this research was to characterize various features of the food environment within small convenience stores located nearby urban junior high and high schools. In-store audits were conducted in 63 stores located within 800 m of 36 urban Minnesota public secondary schools. Results indicated that a limited number of healthier beverages (i.e., water and 100% fruit juice) and snack options (i.e., nuts and pretzels) were available at most stores (≥85%). However, a wide range of healthy snack options were typically not available, with many specific items stocked in less than half of stores (e.g., low-fat yogurt in 27% of stores and low-fat granola bars in 43%). Overall, 51% of stores had fresh fruit and 49% had fresh vegetables. Few stores carried a range of healthier snack alternatives in single-serving packages. All stores had less healthful impulse purchase items available (e.g., candy) while only 46% carried healthier impulse items (e.g., fruit). Most stores (97%) had food/beverage advertising. Overall, convenience stores located in close proximity to secondary schools represent an important and understudied component of the youth food environment.


Obesity Urban food access Neighborhood food environment Corner store Convenience store 


  1. 1.
    Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents. JAMA. 2010; 303(3): 242–249.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Morland K, Wing S, Diez Roux A. The Contextual effect of the local food environment on residents’ diets: the atherosclerosis risk in communities study. J Public Health. 2002; 92(11): 1761–1767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Larson NI, Story MT, Nelson MC. Neighborhood environments: disparities in access to healthy foods in the U.S. Am J Prev Med. 2009; 36(1): 74–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rose D, Hutchinson PL, Bodor JN, et al. Neighborhood food environments and body mass index. Am J Prev Med. 2009; 37(3): 214–219.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Andreyeva T, Blumenthal DM, Schwartz MB, Long MW, Brownell KD. Availability and prices of foods across stores and neighborhoods: the case of New Haven, Connecticut. Healthy Affairs. 2008; 27(5): 1381–1388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Powell LM, Auld MC, Chaloupka FJ, O’Malley PM, Johnston LD. Associations between access to food stores and adolescent body mass index. Am J Prev Med. 2007; 33(4S): S301–S307.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Laska MN, Hearst MO, Forsyth A, Pasch KE, Lytle LA. Neighborhood food environments: are they associated with adolescent dietary intake, food purchases and weight status? Public Health Nutr. 2010; 13(11): 1757–1763.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Stice E, Shaw H, Marti CN. A meta-analytic review of obesity prevention programs for children and adolescents. Psychol Bull. 2006; 132(5): 667–691.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gittlesohn J, Kumar MB. Preventing childhood obesity and diabetes: is it time to move out of the school? Pediatr Diab. 2007; 8(9S): 55–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Zenk SN, Powell LM. US secondary schools and food outlets. Health Place. 2008; 14: 336–346.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Chanil D. Profile of the convenience store customer. Conven Store News. 2002; 24(2): 53.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Borradaile KE, Sherman S, Vander Veur SS, et al. Snacking in children: the role of urban corner stores. Pediatrics. 2009; 124(5): 1293–1298.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Wang YC, Gortmaker SL, Sobol AM, Kuntz KM. Estimating the energy gap among US children: a counterfactual approach. Pediatrics. 2006; 118(6): e1721–e1733.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wardlaw GM, Hampl JS, DiSilvestro RA. Perspectives in nutrition. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2004.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Khan LK, Sobush K, Keener D, et al. Recommended community strategies and measurements to prevent obesity in the United States. MMWR. 2009; 58(7): 1–26.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Laska MN, Borradaile KE, Tester J, Foster GD, Gittlesohn J. Healthy food availability in small urban food stores: a comparison of four US cities. Public Health Nutr. 2009; 8: 1–5.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    United States Census Bureau. North American Industry Classification System. Accessed April 5, 2010.

Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Community HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations