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Abstract

In spite of Italy presenting one of the largest consumption of fruits and vegetables (FV) among EU Countries, the number of adult Italians consuming the recommended daily amounts of FV is declining, especially in the South of the country, were the expansion of the food retail industry has been lagging. In this article we assess whether the food retail structure affects the likelihood of adult Italians consuming five or more daily portions of FV, using 9 years of individual-level data on individuals’ lifestyle, including eating habits and perceived access to supermarkets, matched with detailed regional data on the food retail structure. In our analysis we use a Two-Step Instrumental Variable Probit estimator and variables indicating the political climate of the different regions to correct for the potential endogeneity of geographic disparity in retail structures. Results show that increased access and availability of fruits and vegetables affect positively the probability of consuming the daily-recommended amounts of FV. Food retail structure’s effect appears less marked for individuals declaring hurdles in accessing supermarkets. While individuals’ characteristics play an important role in explaining FV consumption probability among individuals declaring no hurdles in accessing supermarkets, transportation and perceived economic conditions are some of the main determinants for individuals declaring access hurdles.

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