Impacts of the built environment and socioeconomic factors on the accessibility of healthy foods for teenagers in Providence, RI



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In the U.S., youth experience health problems due to inadequate eating behaviors. In terms of physical environmental factors and social environmental factors, youth encounter problems with accessing good foods, as do other age groups. The purpose of this study is to find the relationship between youths’ eating behavior, especially patterns of visiting food resources, and the availability of food resources by food type and socioeconomic background in Providence, Rhode Island. In order to test the relationship between the availability of food resources and socioeconomic situation and children’s eating behaviors, several statistical models are developed. The models are based on the multinomial logistic regression model. Students’ activity data were obtained from a survey in Teen Activity and Transportation Enterprise Project (TATE) under direction of Dr. Talia McCray from September 2006 to May 2007. The food resources location data are collected from the Providence Plan and the Yellow Pages in Rhode Island. The multinomial logistic model shows that the availability of healthy food resources within walking distance from home, frequency to visit food resources, gender, employment status, and race significantly affect access to unhealthy food resources (p < 0.05). The availability of unhealthy foods within walking distance, the number of members living in the household, the number of cars in household, students born in the U.S.A, and the father born in the U.S.A, are not significant. In terms of availability of healthy foods around the home location, number of healthy food resources matter.