Beverage Availability and Price: Variations by Neighborhood Poverty Level in New York City

Marie A. Bragg, Pasquale E. Rummo, Tenay Greene, Josh Arshonsky, Amaka V. Anekwe, Tamar Adjoian Mezzacca, Shannon M. Farley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To describe the variability in the availability and price of sugary drinks, low-calorie drinks, and water/seltzer across high- and low-poverty census tracts in the five boroughs of New York City (NYC). Design: Cross-sectional study. Our primary analysis compared the overall sample of beverages. Secondary analyses included tests for differences in the availability of beverage categories by neighborhood poverty level. Setting: We collected data from 106 stores (31 supermarkets, 29 convenience stores, 29 pharmacies, 9 Targets, and 8 Dollar Trees) in NYC. Fifty-four stores were located in high-poverty census tracts and 52 were located in low-poverty census tracts. Results: The mean Price per 0.03-liter of sugary drinks across the sample was $0.08, which was significantly higher than the price of low-calorie drinks ($0.07, p=0.01) but not different from water/seltzer ($0.08, p=0.65). Sugary drinks and water/seltzer were available in 91% of retailers, and low-calorie drinks were available in 87% of retailers. There was no statistical difference in availability of sugary drinks compared with low-calorie drinks or water/seltzer overall or within high- or low-poverty census tracts. Analyzed by store type, the mean price per ounce of sugary drinks differed significantly from water/seltzer at convenience stores, pharmacies, and Target stores (bodegas: $0.08 vs. $0.09, p=0.03; pharmacies: $0.11 vs. $0.08, p=0.02; Target stores: $0.07 vs. $0.09, p=0.01). Conclusions: Sugary drinks were available in most food retail settings in NYC, with little variation by census tract poverty level. Interventions that raise the price of sugary drinks to make healthier alternatives, such as water, the more affordable option should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-329
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Equity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Information Management


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