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Fruit and Vegetable Intake in African Americans: Income and Store Characteristics

The purpose of this study was to examine whether the characteristics of retail food stores where African-American women shopped mediated the association between their income and intake of fruits and vegetables. Food store characteristics included store type (supermarket, specialty store, limited assortment store, independent grocer), store location (suburbs, city of Detroit), and perceptions of the selection/quality and affordability of fresh produce for sale.
The analysis drew upon data from a probability sample of 266 African-American women living in 2001 in eastside Detroit, which had no supermarkets. Structural equation modeling was used to calculate a path model of direct and indirect effects.
Women shopping at supermarkets and specialty stores consumed fruit and vegetables more often, on average, than those shopping at independent grocers. More positive perceptions of the selection/quality, but not affordability, of fresh produce at the retail outlet where they shopped was positively associated with intake, independent of store type and location as well as age, per capita income, and years of education. The results suggested an indirect association between income and fruit and vegetable intake; women with higher per capita incomes were more likely to shop at supermarkets than at other grocers, which in turn was associated with intake.
Previous studies have shown that few supermarkets are located in the city of Detroit, a symptom of economic divestment over the past several decades. Results of this study suggest this may have negative implications for dietary quality, particularly among lower-income women.