Proximity to supermarkets associated with higher body mass index among overweight and obese preschool-age children

Lauren Fiechtner, Jason Block, Dustin T. Duncan, Matthew W. Gillman, Steven L. Gortmaker, Steven J. Melly, Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, Elsie M. Taveras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The objective of this study is to examine associations of proximity to food establishments with body mass index (BMI) among preschool-age children. Methods: We used baseline data from 438 children ages 2-6.9. years with a BMI ≥ 85th percentile participating in a RCT in Massachusetts from 2006 to 2009. We used a geographic information system to determine proximity to six types of food establishments: 1) convenience stores, 2) bakeries, coffee shops, candy stores, 3) full service restaurants, 4) large supermarkets, 5) small supermarkets, and 6) fast-food restaurants. The main outcome was child's BMI. Results: Children's mean (SD) BMI was 19.2 (2.4)kg/m2; 35% lived ≤1mile from a large supermarket, 42% lived >1 to 2miles, and 22% lived >2miles. Compared to children living >2miles from a large supermarket, those who lived within 1mile had a BMI 1.06kg/m2 higher. Adjustment for socioeconomic characteristics and distance to fast-food restaurants attenuated this estimate to 0.77kg/m2. Living in any other distance category from a large supermarket and proximity to other food establishments were not associated with child BMI. Conclusions: Living closer to a large supermarket was associated with higher BMI among preschool-age children who were overweight or obese.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-221
Number of pages4
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Body mass index
  • Children
  • Food establishments
  • Obesity
  • Supermarkets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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