Ethnic restaurant nutrition environments and cardiovascular health: Examining hispanic Caribbean restaurants in New York City

Melissa Fuster, Enrique R. Pouget, Margaret A. Handley, Krishnendu Ray, Brian Elbel, Eddie N. Sakowitz, Kayla Halvey, Terry Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To adapt and apply the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Restaurants (NEMS-R) to Hispanic Caribbean (HC) restaurants and examine associations between restaurant characteristics and nutrition environment measures. Methods: We adapted the NEMS-R for HC cuisines (Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican) and cardiovascular health-promoting factors, and applied the instrument (NEMS-HCR) to a random sample of HC restaurants in New York City (NYC) (N=89). Multivariable linear regression was used to assess independent associations between NEMS-HCR score and restaurant characteristics (cuisine, size, type [counter-style vs sit-down] and price). Results: None of the menus in the restaurants studied listed any main dishes as “healthy” or “light.” More than half (52%) offered mostly (>75%) nonfried main dishes, and 76% offered at least one vegetarian option. The most common facilitator to healthy eating was offering reduced portion sizes (21%) and the most common barrier was having salt shakers on tables (40%). NEMS-HCR scores (100-point scale) ranged from 24.1-55.2 (mean=39.7). In multivariable analyses, scores were significantly related to cuisine (with Puerto Rican cuisine scoring lower than Cuban and Dominican cuisines), and size (with small [<22 seats] restaurants scoring lower than larger restaurants). We found a significant quadratic association with midpoint price, suggesting that scores increased with increasing price in the lowest price range, did not vary in the middle range, and decreased with increasing price in the highest range. Conclusions: Our application of the NEMS-R to HC restaurants in NYC revealed areas for potential future interventions to improve food offerings and environmental cues to encourage healthful choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-592
Number of pages10
JournalEthnicity and Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Food environment
  • Hispanic/Latino
  • Restaurants
  • Dominican Republic/ethnology
  • Nutritive Value
  • Restaurants/statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Diet, Healthy
  • New York City
  • Commerce/statistics & numerical data
  • Food/economics
  • Cuba/ethnology
  • Puerto Rico/ethnology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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