Does the neighbourhood food environment contribute to ethnic differences in diet quality? Results from the HELIUS study in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Maartje P Poelman, Mary Nicolaou, S Coosje Dijkstra, Joreintje Dingena Mackenbach, Meng Lu, Derek Karssenberg, Marieke B Snijder, Ilonca Vaartjes, Karien Stronks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to establish whether the neighbourhood food environment, characterized by the healthiness of food outlets, the diversity of food outlets and fast-food outlet density within a 500 m or 1000 m street network buffer around the home address, contributed to ethnic differences in diet quality.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional cohort study.

SETTING: Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

PARTICIPANTS: Data on adult participants of Dutch, South-Asian Surinamese, African Surinamese, Turkish and Moroccan descent (n total=4728) in the HELIUS study were analysed.

RESULTS: The neighbourhood food environment of ethnic minority groups living in Amsterdam is less supportive of a healthy diet and of less diversity than that of participants of Dutch origin. For example, participants of Turkish, Moroccan and South-Asian Surinamese descent reside in a neighbourhood with a significantly higher fast-food outlet density (≤1000m) than participants of Dutch descent. However, we found no evidence that the neighbourhood food environment characteristics directly contributed to ethnic differences in diet quality.

CONCLUSION: Although the ethnic minority groups lived in less healthy food environments than the participants of ethnic Dutch origin, this did not contribute to ethnic differences in diet quality. Future research should either investigate other direct or indirect consequences of residing in less supportive food environments and gain a better understanding of how different ethnic groups make use of their neighbourhood food environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Early online date5 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 May 2021

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