Neighborhood effects on food consumption

Tammy Leonard, Caitlin McKillop, Jo Ann Carson, Kerem Shuval

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Food consumption behavior is likely a result of environmental stimuli, access, and personal preferences, making policy aimed at increasing the nutritional content of food consumption challenging. We examine the dual role of the social and physical neighborhood environment as they relate to the eating behaviors of residents of a low-income minority urban neighborhood. We find that both proximity to different types of food sources (a characteristic of the physical neighborhood environment) and dietary intake of neighbors (a characteristic of the neighborhood's social environment) are related to dietary intake. The relationships are most robust for fruits and vegetables consumption. Proximity to fast food sources is related to less fruits and vegetables consumption while the opposite is found for individuals residing closer to fresh food sources. Additionally, individuals whose neighbors report increased fruits and vegetables intake also report higher fruits and vegetables consumption, while controlling for proximity to food sources. Instrumental variable and quasi-experimental robustness checks suggest that correlation in neighbors' fruits and vegetables consumption is likely due to social interactions among neighboring residents. The results elucidate important inter-relationships between access and social norms that influence dietary behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-113
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014


  • Neighborhood effects
  • Nutrition
  • Social influence
  • Spatial econometrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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