The Impact of a New Nonprofit Supermarket within an Urban Food Desert on Household Food Shopping

Victoria Ulrich,MPH, RD,Amy Hillier,MSW PHD, Katherine Isselmann DiSantis, PhD, MPH


Local food environments play an important role in diet-related disease. Research documenting the relationship between poor access to supermarkets and diet-related disease has motivated efforts to bring fresh, healthy food options to food deserts. Few evaluations, however, have been performed to investigate the health impact of new supermarkets. This quasi-experimental study used receipt data as an objective measure to evaluate the impact on purchasing habits of a new non-profit supermarket, self-described as having a focus on fresh healthy foods at everyday low prices. Thirty-five participants collected receipts prior to the opening of the new supermarket and again afterwards. Not everyone in the sample shopped at the new supermarket, which created self-selected control and treatment groups. A difference in difference analysis was used to test for significant differences across these groups and over time. Our results suggest that shopping at the new supermarket is associated with an increase in the purchase of low calorie foods and decrease in the purchase of high calorie foods. Although most of the results were not statistically significant in this small sample, these results are promising. These findings encourage future research on this topic, which would require larger samples to better understand how to maximize the efforts aimed at addressing food environments.



food shopping, food desert, receipts, natural experiment, obesity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18103/mra.v0i3.236


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