The purpose of this research was to examine whether the local food environment, specifically the distance to the nearest sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) vendor, a measure of SSB availability and accessibility, was correlated with the likelihood of self-reported SSB consumption among a sample of fast food consumers. As part of a broader SSB behavior study in 2013-2014, respondents were surveyed outside of major chain fast food restaurants in New York City (NYC). Respondents were asked for the intersection closest to their home and how frequently they consume SSBs. Comprehensive, administrative food outlet databases were used to geo-locate the SSB vendor closest to the respondents' home intersections. We then used a logistic regression model to estimate the association between the distance to the nearest SSB vendor (overall and by type) and the likelihood of daily SSB consumption. Our results show that proximity to the nearest SSB vendor was not statistically significantly associated with the likelihood of daily SSB consumption, regardless of type of vendor. Our results are robust to alternative model specifications, including replacing the linear minimum distance measure with count of the total number of SSB vendors or presence of a SSB vendor within a buffer around respondents' home intersections. We conclude that there is not a strong relationship between proximity to nearest SSB vendor, or proximity to a specific type of SSB vendor, and frequency of self-reported SSB consumption among fast food consumers in NYC. This suggests that policymakers focus on alternative strategies to curtail SSB consumption, such as improving the within-store food environment or taxing SSBs.
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