Health> Vol.4 No.12A, December 2012

Food supply and the obesity scourge: Is there a relationship?

DownloadDownload as PDF (Size:82KB)  HTML    PP. 1457-1463  


This paper reviews literature on the relationship between food supply and obesity. The focus is on the supply, cost, and variety of food through various types of food outlets and the impact of these factors on obesity in developed countries. The article reveals complex relationships between food supply factors and obesity. A numer of factors related to lifestyles including the mobility of populations and the use of motor vehicles greatly reduce the impact of the local environment on family and individual eating patterns. However, obesity is also affected by factors such as the type and density of food outlets, the cost of food, the travel distance and means of transport to the food outlet. While the relationship between food supply and obesity in the literature reveals complex and mixed findings, this paper concludes obesity is complex and food supply is only part of this phenomenon’s predictors. Because the relationship between food supply and obesity is mediated by such multiple and complex factors including population behaviours, beliefs, lifestyles, knowledge and both food and physical environments; multiple strategies including policy development and other strategies aimed at manipulating food environments, physical environments, populations’ beliefs, behaviours and practices must be considered in searching for evidence to effectively combat obesity.

Cite this paper

Mwanri, L. , Foley, W. , Coveney, J. , Muller, R. , Verity, F. , Ward, P. , Carter, P. , Mohr, P. and Taylor, A. (2012) Food supply and the obesity scourge: Is there a relationship?. Health, 4, 1457-1463. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.412A210.


[1] Organisation for Economic Co-Operationand Develop- ment (2009) Health at glance. OECD Indicators, Paris.
[2] Al-Othaimeen, A.I., Al-Nozha, M. and Osman, A.K. (2007) Obesity: An emerging problem in Saudi Arabia Analysis of data from National Nutritional Survey. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 13, 441-447.
[3] Australian Government Department of Health and Aging (2005) Consultation draft of the national chronic disease strategy. Australian Government, Canberra.
[4] World Health Organization (WHO) (2000) Obesity: Preventing and managing the global epidemic. WHO, Geneva.
[5] Sturm, R. (2002) The effects of obesity, smoking and drinking on medical problems and costs. Health Affairs, 21, 245-253. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.21.2.245
[6] Musaiger, A. (2004) Overweight and obesity in the East- ern Mediterranean region: Can we control it. East Medi- terranean Health Journal, 10, 789-793.
[7] Lobstein, T., Baur, L. and Uauy, R. (2004) Obesity in children and young people: A crisis in public health. Obesity Reviews, 5, 4-85. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2004.00133.x
[8] Silventoinen, K., Sans, S., Tolonen, H., Monterde, D., Ku- ulasmaa, K., Kesteloot, H. and Tuomilehto, J. (2004) Trends in obesity and energy supply in the WHOMONICA Pro- ject. International Journal of Obesity and Related Meta- bolic Disorders, 28, 710-718. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802614
[9] Common Wealth of Australia (2009) Australia: The heal- thiest country by 2020: Obesity in Australia. Preventative Health Taskforce, ACT, Canberra.
[10] World Health Organization (2000) Obesity: Preventing and managing the global epidemic. WHO, Geneva
[11] Renzaho, A., Swinburb, B. and Burns, C. (2008) Maintenance of traditional cultural orientation is associated with lower rates of obesity and sedentary behaviours among African migrant children to developed countries. International Journal of Obesity, 32, 594-600. doi:10.1038/ijo.2008.2
[12] O’brien, K. and Webbie, K. (2003) A real Australians gain- ing weight: Differentials in overweight and obesity among adults, 1989-1990 to 2001. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra:
[13] Maddock, J. (2004) The relationship between obesity and the prevalence of fast food restaurants: State-level analysis. American Journal of Health Promotion, 19, 137-143. doi:10.4278/0890-1171-19.2.137
[14] Mehta, N., Chang, V.W. (2008) Weight status and restau- rant availability: A multilevel analysis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 34, 127-133. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2007.09.031
[15] Papas, M., Alberg, A.J., Ewing, R., Helzlsouer, K.J., Gary, T.L. and Klassen, A.C. (2007) The built environment and obesity. Epidemiologic Reviews, 29, 129-143. doi:10.1093/epirev/mxm009
[16] Ford, P. and Dzewaltowski, D.A. (2008) Disparities in obesity prevalence due to variation in the retail food en- vironment: Three testable hypotheses. Nutrition Reviews, 66, 216-228. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2008.00026.x
[17] Gasparyan, A.Y., Ayvazya, L., Blackmore, H., Kitas, G.D. (2011) Writing a narative biomedical review: Considera- tions for authors, peer reviewers, and editors. Rheumato- logy International, 31, 1409-1417. doi:10.1007/s00296-011-1999-3
[18] Morland, K., DiezRoux, A. and Wing, S. (2006) Supermarkets, other food stores, and obesity: The atherosclero- sis risk in communities study. American Journal of Pre- ventive Medicine, 30, 333-339. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2005.11.003
[19] Wang, M.C., Kim, S., Gonzalez, A.A., MacLeod, K.E. and Winkleby, M.A. (2007) Socioeconomic and food-re- lated physical characteristics of the neighbourhood environment are associated with body mass index. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 61, 491-498. doi:10.1136/jech.2006.051680
[20] Ball, K., Crawford, D. and Mishra, G (2009) Socio-economic in equalities in women’s fruit and vegetable inta- kes: A multi level study of individual, social and environmental mediators. Public Health Nutrition, 9, 623-630.
[21] Sharkey, J.R., Horel, S. (2008) Neighbourhoods socioeconomic deprivation and minority composition are asso-ciated with better potential spatial access to the ground- truthed food environment in a large rural area. Journal of Nutrition, 138, 620-628.
[22] Black, J. and Macinko, J. (2008) Neighbourhoods and obesity. Nutrition Reviews, 66, 2-20. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2007.00001.x
[23] Powell, L.M., Auld, M.C., Chaloupka, F.J., O’Malley, P.M. and Johnston, L.D. (2007) Associations between access to food stores and adolescent body mass index. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33, S301-S307. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2007.07.007
[24] Guy, C.M., David, G. (2004) Measuring physical access to “healthy foods” in areas of social deprivation: A case study in Cardiff. International Journal of Consumer Stud- ies, 28, 222-234. doi:10.1111/j.1470-6431.2003.00340.x
[25] Inagami, S., Cohen, D.A., Finch, B. and Asch, S.M. (2006) You are where you shop: Grocery store locations, weight, and neighborhoods. American Journal of Preven- tive Medicine, 31, 10-17. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2006.03.019
[26] Powell, L.M., Slater, S., Mirtcheva, D., Bao, Y., Chaloup- ka, F.J. (2007) Food store availability and neighborhoods characteristics in the United States. Preventive Medicine, 44, 189-195. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2006.08.008
[27] Jetter, K.M. and Cassady, D. (2006) The availability and cost of healthier food alternatives. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30, 38-44. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2005.08.039
[28] Glanz, K., Sallis, J.F., Saelens, B.E. and Frank, L.D. (2007) Nutrition environment measures survey in stores (NEMS-S): Development and evaluation. American Jour- nal of Preventive Medicine, 32, 282-289. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2006.12.019
[29] Baker, E.A., Schootman, M., Barnidge, E. and Kelly, C. (2006) The role of race and poverty in access to foods that enable individuals to adhere to dietary guidelines.
[30] Powell, L.M., Chaloupka, F.J. and Bao, Y. (2007) The availability of fast food and full-service restaurants in the United States: Associations with neighbourhoods charac- teristics. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33, 240-245. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2007.07.005
[31] Burns, C. and Inglis, A.D. (2007) Measuring food access in Melbourne: Access to healthy and fast food by car, bus and foot in an urban municipality in Melbourne. Health & Place, 13, 877-885. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2007.02.005
[32] James, P.T., Leach, R., Kalamara, E. and Shayeghi, M. (2001) The worldwide obesity epidemic. Obesity Research, 9, 228S-233S.
[33] Giskes, K., Van Lenthe, F., Brug, J., Mackenbach, J.P. and Turrell, G. (2007) Socioeconomic inequalities in food pur- chasing: The contribution of respondent-perceived and actual (objectively measured) price and availability of foods. Preventive Medicine, 45, 41-48. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2007.04.007
[34] Glanz, K. (1985) Nutrition education for risk factor re- duction and patient education. A review. Preventive Medi- cine, 14, 721-752. doi:10.1016/0091-7435(85)90069-6
[35] Burns, C., Jackson, M., Gibbons, C., Stoney, R.M. (2002) Foods prepared outside the home: Association with se- lected nutrients and body mass index in adult Australians. Public Health Nutrition, 5, 441-448. doi:10.1079/PHN2001316
[36] Bowman, S. and Vinyard, B.T. (2004) Fast food consump- tion of US adults: Impaction energy and nutrient intakes and overweight status. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23, 163-168.
[37] Reidpath, D.B.C., Garrard, J., Mahoney, M. and Town-send, M. (2002) An ecological study of the relationship between social and environmental determinants of obesity. Health & Place, 8, 141-145. doi:10.1016/S1353-8292(01)00028-4
[38] Cummins, S., McKay, L. and MacIntyre, S. (2005) McDonald’s restaurants and neighbourhoods deprivation in Scotland and England. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 29, 308-310. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2005.06.011
[39] Maddock, J. (2004) The relationship between obesity and the prevalence of fast food restaurants: State-level analysis. American Journal of Health Promotion, 19, 137-143.
[40] Macdonald, L., Cummins, S. and Macintyre, S. (2007) Neighbourhood fast food environment and area deprivation-substitution or concentration? Appetite, 49, 251-254. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2006.11.004
[41] Kwate, N.O.A. (2008) Fried chicken and fresh apples: Racial segregation as a fundamental cause of fast food density in black neighborhoods. Health & Place, 14, 32- 44. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2007.04.001
[42] Hemphill, E, Raine, K., Spence, J.C. and Smoyer-Tomic, K.E. (2008) Exploring obesogenic food environments in Edmonton, Canada: The association between socioeco- nomic factors and fast food outlet access. American Jour- nal of Health Promotion, 22, 426-432. doi:10.4278/ajhp.22.6.426
[43] Jeffery, R., Baxter, J., McGuire, M. and Linde, J. (2006) Are fast food restaurants an environmental risk factor for obesity? International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 3, 35. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-3-2
[44] Burdette, H.L. and Whitaker, R.C. (2004) Neighborhoods playgrounds, fast food restaurants, and crime: Relation- ships to overweight in low-income preschool children. Preventive Medicine, 38, 57-63. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2003.09.029
[45] Pearce, J., Hiscock, R., Blakely, T. and Witten, K. (2009) A national study of the association between neighbour- hood access to fast food outlets and the diet and weight of local residents. Health & Place, 15, 193-197. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2008.04.003
[46] Simmons, D., McKenzie, A., Eaton, S., Cox, N., Khan, M.A., Shaw, J. and Zimmet, P. (2005) Choice and availability of take away and restaurant food is not related to the prevalence of adult obesity in rural communities in Australia. International Journal of Obesity, 29, 703-710. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802941
[47] Drewnowski, A. and Darmon, N. (2005) The economics of obesity: Dietary energy density and energy cost. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82, 265-273.
[48] Queensland Health (2006) The 2006 Healthy Food Access Basket (HFAB) survey. Queensland Government, Bri- sbane, 2006.
[49] Drewnowski, A. and Specter, S.E. (2004) Poverty and obe- sity: The role of energy density and energy costs. The Ame- rican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79, 6-16.
[50] Drewnowski, A., Darmon, N. and Briend, A. (2004) Replacing fats and sweets with vegetables and fruits: A ques-tion of cost. American Journal of Public Health, 94, 1555-1559. doi:10.2105/AJPH.94.9.1555
[51] Andrieu, E.D.N. and Drewnowski, A. (2006) Low-cost diets: More energy, fewer nutrients. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60, 434-436. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602331
[52] Monsivais, P. and Drewnowski, A. (2007) The rising cost of low-energy-density foods. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107, 2071-2072. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.09.009
[53] Burns, C. and Sacks, G. (2008) Longitudinal study of consumer price index (CPI) trends in core and non-corefoods in Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Pub- lic Health, 32, 450-453. doi:10.1111/j.1753-6405.2008.00278.x
[54] Inglis, V.B.K. and Crawford, D. (2008) Socioeconomic va- riations in women’s diets: What is the role of perceptions of the local food environment? Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 62, 191-197. doi:10.1136/jech.2006.059253
[55] Drewnowski, A. and Bar-ratt-Fornell, A. (2004) Do healthier diets cost more? Nutrition Today, 39, 161. doi:10.1097/00017285-200407000-00006
[56] Rose, D. (2007) Food stamps, the thrifty food plan, and meal preparation: The importance of the time dimension for US nutrition policy. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 39, 226-232.
[57] Beydoun, M., Powell, L.M. and Wang, Y. (2008) The as- sociation of fast food, fruit and vegetable prices with die- tary in takes among US adults: Is there modification by family income? Social Science & Medicine, 66, 2218- 2229. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.01.018
[58] Duffey, K., Gordon-Larse, P., Shikany, J.M., Guikey, D., Jacobs, D.R. and Popkin, B.M. (2010) Food price and diet and health outcomes. Twenty years of the Cardia Study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 170, 420-426. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.545
[59] Morland, K., Wing, S. and Diex-Roux, A. (2002) The contextual effect of the local food environment on resi- dents’ diets: The atherosclerosis risk in communities study. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 1761-1767. doi:10.2105/AJPH.92.11.1761
[60] Drewnowski, A. (2007) The real contribution of added-sugars and fats to obesity. Epi-demiologic Reviews, 29, 160- 171. doi:10.1093/epirev/mxm011
[61] McColl, K. (2009) “Fat taxes” and financial crisis. The Lancet, 373, 797-798. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60463-3

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2014 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.