Residential exposure to fast-food restaurants and its association with diet quality, overweight and obesity in the Netherlands: a cross-sectional analysis in the EPIC-NL cohort

Marjolein C. Harbers*, Joline W.J. Beulens, Jolanda Ma Boer, Derek Karssenberg, Joreintje D. Mackenbach, Femke Rutters, Ilonca Vaartjes, Wm Monique Verschuren, Yvonne T. van der Schouw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Unhealthy food environments may contribute to unhealthy diets and risk of overweight and obesity through increased consumption of fast-food. Therefore, we aimed to study the association of relative exposure to fast-food restaurants (FFR) with overall diet quality and risk of overweight and obesity in a sample of older adults. Methods: We analyzed cross-sectional data of the EPIC-NL cohort (n = 8,231). Data on relative FFR exposure was obtained through linkage of home address in 2015 with a retail outlet database. We calculated relative exposure to FFR by dividing the densities of FFR in street-network buffers of 400, 1000, and 1500 m around the home of residence by the density of all food retailers in the corresponding buffer. We calculated scores on the Dutch Healthy Diet 2015 (DHD15) index using data from a validated food-frequency questionnaire. BMI was categorized into normal weight (BMI < 25), overweight (25 ≤ BMI < 30), and obesity (BMI ≥ 30). We used multivariable linear regression (DHD15-index) and multinomial logistic regression (weight status), using quartiles of relative FFR exposure as independent variable, adjusting for lifestyle and environmental characteristics. Results: Relative FFR exposure was not significantly associated with DHD15-index scores in the 400, 1000, and 1500 m buffers (βQ4vsQ1= -0.21 [95 %CI: -1.12; 0.70]; βQ4vsQ1= -0.12 [95 %CI: -1.10; 0.87]; βQ4vsQ1 = 0.37 [95 %CI: -0.67; 1.42], respectively). Relative FFR exposure was also not related to overweight in consecutive buffers (ORQ4vsQ1=1.10 [95 %CI: 0.97; 1.25]; ORQ4vsQ1=0.97 [95 %CI: 0.84; 1.11]; ORQ4vsQ1= 1.04 [95 %CI: 0.90–1.20]); estimates for obesity were similar to those of overweight. Conclusions: A high proportion of FFR around the home of residence was not associated with diet quality or overweight and obesity in this large Dutch cohort of older adults. We conclude that although the food environment may be a determinant of food choice, this may not directly translate into effects on diet quality and weight status. Methodological improvements are warranted to provide more conclusive evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number56
JournalNutrition Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Cite this