Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 424–438 | Cite as

Overweight and obesity: Can we reconcile evidence about supermarkets and fast food retailers for public health policy?

  • Deborah Viola
  • Peter S Arno
  • Andrew R Maroko
  • Clyde B Schechter
  • Nancy Sohler
  • Andrew Rundle
  • Kathryn M Neckerman
  • Juliana Maantay
Original Article


The aim of this study is to determine whether access to fast food outlets and supermarkets is associated with overweight and obesity in New York City neighborhoods. We use a Bayesian ecologic approach for spatial prediction. Consistent with prior research, we find no association between fast food density and overweight or obesity. Consistent with prior research, we find that supermarket access has a salutary impact on overweight and obesity. Given the lack of empirical evidence linking fast food retailers with adverse health outcomes, policymakers should be encouraged to adopt policies that incentivize the establishment of supermarkets and the modification of existing food store markets and retailers to offer healthier choices. Reaching within neighborhoods and modifying the physical environment and public health prevention and intervention efforts based on the characteristics of those neighborhoods may play a key role in creating healthier communities.


overweight physical environment fast food supermarkets parks regulation health policy 



Support for this article was provided, in part, by grant P60-MD0005-03 from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (Arno, Viola, Maroko, Schechter, Sohler, and Mantaay) and from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 5R01DK079885-02 (Rundle and Neckerman). Special thanks to Bonnie Kerker and Kevin Konty from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for their insightful comments and facilitating access to New York City Community Health Survey data.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah Viola
    • 1
  • Peter S Arno
    • 1
  • Andrew R Maroko
    • 2
  • Clyde B Schechter
    • 3
  • Nancy Sohler
    • 4
  • Andrew Rundle
    • 5
  • Kathryn M Neckerman
    • 6
  • Juliana Maantay
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy & ManagementSchool of Health Sciences and Practice, New York Medical CollegeValhallaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health SciencesLehman College, City University of New YorkBronxUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family & Social MedicineAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  4. 4.Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, City College of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Population Research Center, Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  7. 7.and Geospatial Sciences DepartmentEarth, Environmental, Lehman College, City University of New YorkBronxUSA

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