Open Access Research article

Is proximity to a food retail store associated with diet and BMI in Glasgow, Scotland?

Laura Macdonald1*, Anne Ellaway1, Kylie Ball2 and Sally Macintyre1

Author Affiliations

1 MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, 4 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow, G12 8RZ, Scotland, UK

2 School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood VIC 3125 Australia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:464  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-464

Published: 10 June 2011



Access to healthy food is often seen as a potentially important contributor to diet. Policy documents in many countries suggest that variations in access contribute to inequalities in diet and in health. Some studies, mostly in the USA, have found that proximity to food stores is associated with dietary patterns, body weight and socio-economic differences in diet and obesity, whilst others have found no such relationships. We aim to investigate whether proximity to food retail stores is associated with dietary patterns or Body Mass Index in Glasgow, a large city in the UK.


We mapped data from a 'Health and Well-Being Survey' (n = 991), and a list of food stores (n = 741) in Glasgow City, using ArcGIS, and undertook network analysis to find the distance from respondents' home addresses to the nearest fruit and vegetable store, small general store, and supermarket.


We found few statistically significant associations between proximity to food retail outlets and diet or obesity, for unadjusted or adjusted models, or when stratifying by gender, car ownership or employment.


The findings suggest that in urban settings in the UK the distribution of retail food stores may not be a major influence on diet and weight, possibly because most urban residents have reasonable access to food stores.