Recent changes in the Dutch foodscape - socioeconomic and urban-rural differences

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BACKGROUND: Obesogenic food environments may influence dietary behaviours and contribute to obesity. Few countries quantified changes in their foodscape. We explored how the availability of different types of food retailers has changed in the Netherlands across levels of neighbourhood socioeconomic status (SES) and urbanisation.

METHODS: This longitudinal ecological study conducted in the Netherlands had as unit of analysis administrative neighbourhoods. From 2004 to 2018, the geographic location and type of each food retailer were objectively assessed by a commercial company. Food retailers were categorised as local food shops, fast food restaurants, food delivery, restaurants, supermarkets, and convenience stores. Information on neighbourhood SES and urbanisation was obtained from Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). To test the change in the counts of food retailers we used negative binomial generalized estimating equations (GEE), with neighbourhoods as the group variable, time as the independent variable and the counts of each type of food retailer as outcome. To account for changes in population density, analyses were adjusted for the number of inhabitants per neighbourhood. We tested effect modification by adding an interaction term for neighbourhood SES and urbanisation to the models.

RESULTS: In Dutch neighbourhoods between 2004 and 2018, a 120 and 35% increase was found in the count of food delivery outlets and restaurants, respectively, and a 24% decrease in count of local food shops. Stratified analyses showed an increase in the availability of supermarkets and convenience stores in the more urbanised and lower SES neighbourhoods, while a decrease was observed in the less urbanised and higher SES neighbourhoods.

CONCLUSIONS: We observed considerable changes in the Dutch foodscape. Over a 14 years period, the foodscape changed towards a higher availability of food retailers offering convenience and ready-to-eat foods. These findings can help policy makers aiming to promote a healthier food environment and obesity prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalThe international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2020

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