Background: Communities in the United States (US) exist on a continuum of urbanicity, which may inform how individuals interact with their food environment, and thus modify the relationship between food access and dietary behaviors. Objective: This cross-sectional study aims to examine the modifying effect of community type in the association between the relative availability of food outlets and dietary inflammation across the US. Methods: Using baseline data from the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study (2003–2007), we calculated participants’ dietary inflammation score (DIS). Higher DIS indicates greater pro-inflammatory exposure. We defined our exposures as the relative availability of supermarkets and fast-food restaurants (percentage of food outlet type out of all food stores or restaurants, respectively) using street-network buffers around the population-weighted centroid of each participant’s census tract. We used 1-, 2-, 6-, and 10-mile (~ 2-, 3-, 10-, and 16 km) buffer sizes for higher density urban, lower density urban, suburban/small town, and rural community types, respectively. Using generalized estimating equations, we estimated the association between relative food outlet availability and DIS, controlling for individual and neighborhood socio-demographics and total food outlets. The percentage of supermarkets and fast-food restaurants were modeled together. Results: Participants (n = 20,322) were distributed across all community types: higher density urban (16.7%), lower density urban (39.8%), suburban/small town (19.3%), and rural (24.2%). Across all community types, mean DIS was − 0.004 (SD = 2.5; min = − 14.2, max = 9.9). DIS was associated with relative availability of fast-food restaurants, but not supermarkets. Association between fast-food restaurants and DIS varied by community type (P for interaction = 0.02). Increases in the relative availability of fast-food restaurants were associated with higher DIS in suburban/small towns and lower density urban areas (p-values < 0.01); no significant associations were present in higher density urban or rural areas. Conclusions: The relative availability of fast-food restaurants was associated with higher DIS among participants residing in suburban/small town and lower density urban community types, suggesting that these communities might benefit most from interventions and policies that either promote restaurant diversity or expand healthier food options.
- Census Tract
- Neighborhood characteristics
- Surveys and questionnaires
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Computer Science(all)
- Business, Management and Accounting(all)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health