Convenience stores in Twin Cities promote more unhealthy foods

Many people rely on convenience stores and gas marts for everyday groceries or a quick snack. But new research from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health shows that making good nutritional choices at such stores is more difficult due to the prominent placement of advertisements and products that encourage people to purchase less healthy foods.

The study was published in the CDC’s publication Preventing Chronic Disease and co-written by Tim Barnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., Darin Erickson, Ph.D.Lisa Harnack Dr.P.H., R.D., M.P.H., Melissa Laska, Ph.D., R.D., and Jennifer Pelletier, Ph.D., M.P.H., with the School of Public Health. Caitlin Caspi, Sc.D., from the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health in the Medical School, also was a co-author.

“We found that there were more unhealthy foods on the exterior and interior of stores, including near checkouts, suggesting that consumers are purchasing these foods more often than healthy foods,” said Barnes, lead author and a School of Public Health research associate at the time of the study.

The study examined food and advertising in corner/small grocery stores, gas-food marts, pharmacies, and dollar stores. The results showed that advertisements for healthy foods and beverages were found in less than half of the stores surveyed, whereas ads for unhealthy items, such as chips and prepared foods, were seen in approximately half of stores.

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University of Minnesota, Twin Cities