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Impact of the Neighbourhood Food Environment and Socioeconomic Status on Diet Quality

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

Results from “Associations between the neighbourhood food environment, neighbourhood socioeconomic status, and diet quality: An observational study “.

McInerney, M., Csizmadi, I., Fridenreich, C.M., Uribe, F. A., Nettle-Aguirre, A., McLaren, L., Potestio, M.,Sandalack, B., & McCormack, G. R.


Neighbourhood environment and diet quality

The neighbourhood environment can influence the diet quality of adults 1. Evidence has demonstrated associations between neighbourhood food environments, diet quality, and socioeconomic status (SES), separately 2-4. However, little is known about the combined impact of neighbourhood features and SES on diet quality. A recent study examined how the neighbourhood food environment and SES may independently or mutually influence the diet quality of Canadian adults. Data from two self-reported questionnaires [the Canadian Diet history Questionnaire (C-DHQ II) and the Past Year

Physical Activity Questionnaire (PAQ)] were used to estimate the diet quality of adults living in Calgary, Canada. Density, diversity, and presence of specific food destinations within a 400m walking distance or “walkshed” from participant’s homes were calculated using geographical information systems. The SES of a given walkshed was determined based on data from the 2006 Canadian Census.

Does the neighbourhood environment affect diet quality?

A greater density of food destinations in a neighbourhood, regardless of destination type (e.g. grocery store, fast food restaurant, convenience store, etc.), was associated with a moderately higher diet quality. Participants who spent more time in their neighbourhood, reported good physical health, owned a dog, were female, or did not smoke were found to have higher diet quality than other adults. SES was not found to impact diet quality independently or through interactions with other neighbourhood food destination variables. This suggests that potential interventions to address diet quality can be applied across all neighbourhoods in Canada. However, this result may be limited by the sample being of a higher SES despite efforts to capture a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Further research in this area may help to inform the planning of neighbourhood food destinations to support healthy, high quality diets among Canadian adults.

Suggested Citation: McInerney, M., et al. (2016) Associations between the neighbourhood food environment, neighbourhood socioeconomic status, and diet quality: An observational study. BMC Public Health (2016) 16:984

Written by Emma Chong, Bkin; Posted July 11th, 2020



  1. Raine KD. Determinants of healthy eating in Canada: an overview and synthesis. Can J Public Heal JSTOR. 2005;96:S8–S14.

  2. Black C, Moon G, Baird J. Dietary inequalities: What is the evidence for the effect of the neighbourhood food environment? Health Place. 2013;27:229–42. Available from: article/pii/S1353829213001317.

  3. Caspi CE, Sorensen G, Subramanian SV, Kawachi I. The local food environment and diet: A systematic review. Health Place. 2012;18:1172–87. Available from:

  4. Ball K, Lamb KE, Costa C, Cutumisu N, Ellaway A, Kamphuis CBM, et al. Neighbourhood socioeconomic disadvantage and fruit and vegetable consumption: a seven countries comparison. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. London: BioMed Central; 2015;12:68. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.


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