City Research Online

The impact of the consumer and neighbourhood food environment on dietary intake and obesity-related outcomes: A systematic review of causal impact studies

Atanasova, P., Kusuma, D. ORCID: 0000-0002-1909-9341, Pineda, E. , Frost, G., Sassi, F. & Miraldo, M. (2022). The impact of the consumer and neighbourhood food environment on dietary intake and obesity-related outcomes: A systematic review of causal impact studies. Social Science & Medicine, 299, 114879. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.114879


The food environment has been found to impact population dietary behaviour. Our study aimed to systematically review the impact of different elements of the food environment on dietary intake and obesity.

We searched MEDLINE, Embase, PsychInfo, EconLit databases to identify literature that assessed the relationship between the built food environments (intervention) and dietary intake and obesity (outcomes), published between database inception to March 26, 2020. All human studies were eligible except for those on clinical sub-groups. Only studies with causal inference methods were assessed. Studies focusing on the food environment inside homes, workplaces and schools were excluded. A risk of bias assessment was conducted using the CASP appraisal checklist. Findings were summarized using a narrative synthesis approach.

58 papers were included, 55 of which were conducted in high-income countries. 70% of papers focused on the consumer food environments and found that in-kind/financial incentives, healthy food saliency, and health primes, but not calorie menu labelling significantly improved dietary quality of children and adults, while BMI results were null. 30% of the papers focused on the neighbourhood food environments and found that the number of and distance to unhealthy food outlets increased the likelihood of fast-food consumption and higher BMI for children of any SES; among adults only selected groups were impacted - females, black, and Hispanics living in low and medium density areas. The availability and distance to healthy food outlets significantly improved children's dietary intake and BMI but null results were found for adults.

Evidence suggests certain elements of the consumer and neighbourhood food environments could improve populations dietary intake, while effect on BMI was observed among children and selected adult populations. Underprivileged groups are most likely to experience and impact on BMI. Future research should investigate whether findings translate in other countries.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Publisher Keywords: Unhealthy Diet, Obesity, Built food environment, Causal inference methods
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login