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Open Access Research

Association between proximity to and coverage of traditional fast-food restaurants and non-traditional fast-food outlets and fast-food consumption among rural adults

Joseph R Sharkey1*, Cassandra M Johnson1, Wesley R Dean1 and Scott A Horel2

Author Affiliations

1 Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center, MS 1266, College Station, TX, 77843-1266, USA

2 Program on GIS and Spatial Statistics, School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center, MS 1266, College Station, TX, 77843-1266, USA

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International Journal of Health Geographics 2011, 10:37  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-10-37

Published: 20 May 2011

Abstract

Objective

The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between residential exposure to fast-food entrées, using two measures of potential spatial access: proximity (distance to the nearest location) and coverage (number of different locations), and weekly consumption of fast-food meals.

Methods

Traditional fast-food restaurants and non-traditional fast-food outlets, such as convenience stores, supermarkets, and grocery stores, from the 2006 Brazos Valley Food Environment Project were linked with individual participants (n = 1409) who completed the nutrition module in the 2006 Brazos Valley Community Health Assessment.

Results

Increased age, poverty, increased distance to the nearest fast food, and increased number of different traditional fast-food restaurants, non-traditional fast-food outlets, or fast-food opportunities were associated with less frequent weekly consumption of fast-food meals. The interaction of gender and proximity (distance) or coverage (number) indicated that the association of proximity to or coverage of fast-food locations on fast-food consumption was greater among women and opposite of independent effects.

Conclusions

Results provide impetus for identifying and understanding the complex relationship between access to all fast-food opportunities, rather than to traditional fast-food restaurants alone, and fast-food consumption. The results indicate the importance of further examining the complex interaction of gender and distance in rural areas and particularly in fast-food consumption. Furthermore, this study emphasizes the need for health promotion and policy efforts to consider all sources of fast-food as part of promoting healthful food choices.