Association between time-weighted activity space-based exposures to fast food outlets and fast food consumption among young adults in urban Canada
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Despite increased attention on retail food environments and fast food consumption, results from previous studies have been inconsistent. Variation in measurement of exposure to retail food environments and the context of the built environment are possible reasons for inconsistencies. The purpose of the current study is to examine the association between exposure to fast food environment and fast food consumption among young adults, and to explore possible associations between built environment
... nd fast food consumption. We employed an observational, cross-sectional study design. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 2016 and 2017. In a sample of 591 young adults aged 16-30 years in five Canadian cities, we constructed and computed individual-level time-weighted number and ratio of fast food outlets in activity spaces derived from GPS trajectory data. Negative binomial regression models estimated the associations between exposure measures and frequency of fast food consumption (number of times consuming fast food meals in a seven-day period), controlling for built environment characterization and individual-level characteristics. Significant positive associations were found between time-weighted number of fast food outlets and count of fast food meals consumed per week in models using a radius of 500 m (IRR = 1.078, 95% CI: 0.999, 1.163), 1 km (IRR = 1.135, 95% CI: 1.024, 1.259), or 1.5 km (IRR = 1.138, 95% CI: 1.004, 1.289) around GPS tracks, when generating activity spaces. However, time-weighted ratio of fast food outlets was only significantly associated with count of fast food meals consumed when a radius of 500 m is used (IRR = 1.478, 95% CI: 1.032, 2.123). The time-weighted Active Living Environment Index with Transit measure was significantly negatively related to count of fast food meals consumed across all models. Our study demonstrated associations of time-weighted activity space-based exposure to fast food outlets and fast food consumption frequency in a sample of young adults in urban Canada, and provides evidence of the association between context of built environment and fast food consumption, furthering discussion on the utility of individual-level, activity space-based data and methods in food environment research. These results imply that both food retail composition and activity spaces in urban areas are important factors to consider when studying diets.