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Aspects of the built environment may be contributing to the upward trend in obesity through constrained availability and affordability of healthful foods. The neighborhood food environment factors such as the availability of food retail stores is increasingly being recognized as playing an important role in health behaviors and health outcomes. We examine the local availability of retail food stores and their influence on the risk of obesity in North Carolina. Data on food stores were linked through county codes to individual data from the BRFSS data and multilevel modeling was employed to assess their associations with BMI. In regressions that included fruit and vegetable servings, and food store types as explanatory variables, our result show that BMI decreased with availability of supermarkets, and consumption of more servings of fruits and vegetables. In contrast increased availability of gas and convenience type food store outlets was associated with increased BMI.


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