Skip to main content

Adult food choices in association with the local retail food environment and food access in resource-poor communities: a scoping review



There is a growing body of research on local retail food environments globally in both urban and rural settings. Despite this, little research has been conducted on adult food choices, local retail environments, and healthy food access in resource-poor communities. The purpose of this study is therefore to provide an overview of the evidence on adult food choices (measured as dietary intake) in association with the local retail food environment and food access in resource-poor communities (defined as low-income communities and/or households).


We searched nine databases for studies published from July 2005 to March 2022 and identified 2426 records in the primary and updated search. Observational studies, empirical and theoretical studies, focused on adults ≤ 65 years, published in English peer-reviewed journals, examining local retail food environments and food access, were included. Two independent reviewers screened identified articles using the selection criteria and data extraction form. Study characteristics and findings were summarized for all studies and relevant themes summarized for qualitative and mixed methods studies.


A total of 47 studies were included in this review. Most studies were cross sectional (93.6%) and conducted in the United States of America (70%). Nineteen (40.4%) studies assessed the association between food choice outcomes and local retail food environment exposures, and evidence on these associations are inconclusive. Associations of certain food choice outcomes with healthy food retail environments were positive for healthy foods (in 11 studies) and unhealthy foods (in 3 studies). Associations of certain food choice outcomes with unhealthy retail food environment exposures were positive for unhealthy foods in 1 study and negative for healthy foods in 3 studies. In 9 studies, some of the food choice outcomes were not associated with retail food environment exposures. A healthy food store type and lower food prices were found to be major facilitators for healthy food access in resource-poor communities, while cost and transportation were the main barriers.


More research is needed on the local retail food environment in communities in low- and middle-income countries to develop better interventions to improve food choices and access to healthy foods in resource-poor communities.

Peer Review reports


Globally, poor diet is a primary risk factor for death and disability [1] and is responsible for various types of malnutrition [2]. In 2016, > 1.9 billion adults (39%) worldwide were overweight and of these 650 million (13%) were obese [3]. On the other side of the spectrum, an estimated 768 million people (10%) worldwide were undernourished and 928 million people (12%) were severely food insecure in 2020 [4]. Poor food systems and unhealthy food environments contribute to the high global prevalence of poor nutritional status [2].

Food choices are influenced by the various physical, economic, political and socio-cultural environments in which people live [5, 6]. The collective of these environments are referred to as the food environment, which reflects the context in which people acquire, prepare and consume foods [5, 7]. According to Glanz and colleagues, local food environments can be categorized into the community nutrition environment, consumer nutrition environment, and organizational nutrition environment [8]. The community nutrition environment refers to number, type, location and accessibility to food stores in a community. The consumer nutrition environment refers to the availability of healthy food choices, price, promotion, quality and placement of food items [8]. The community and consumer nutrition environments combined are referred to as the retail food environment [9]. The retail food environment can therefore be described as accessibility to local food stores and markets, and the availability and affordability of healthy foods in these stores and markets [8].

The five dimensions of the food environment, also known as the dimensions of food access include availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptability and accommodation [10]. In the context of the food environment, availability refers to the density (presence) of different types of food stores within a specific area such as census tracts or buffer zones [10, 11]. Accessibility refers to (i) geographic location of the food stores, defined as proximity which can be measured as travel time and distance to stores [10, 11], and (ii) diversity or variety of different types of food stores, such as supermarkets and fast food (FF) restaurants [12]. Affordability refers to purchasing power and food prices, measured by store audits or price indices [10]. Acceptability refers to people's attitudes on the characteristics of their local food environment, it can be measured as people’s perception on quality of foods sold or as store audit food quality score [10]. Accommodation refers to how well the local retail food environment caters to residents' needs such as store operating hours and types of payment options offered to customers [10]. Perceptions on availability, accessibility affordability, acceptability and accommodation in the local retail food environment can also be measured [13].

Food choice is defined as the processes by which people consider, acquire, prepare, store, distribute, and consume foods and beverages [14]. Food choice is determined by individual and social factors, as well as physical and macro-level environments such as the food system [15]. Changes in the food environment due to changes in food supply and demand affect individuals’ food choices [16]. Food environments therefore affect diet quality and dietary habits, and ultimately impact diet-related health outcomes [17,18,19]. In their review paper, Story and colleagues’ reported that healthy retail food environments have been shown to be characterized by access to food stores such as supermarkets, grocery stores and farmers markets, and limited presence of FF restaurants in a community, and the availability of healthy affordable food products within stores [20]. A healthy food environment can lead to improved access to fruits and vegetables (FV), greater dietary diversity [21], and provision of healthier options of pre-packaged foods, prepared and readymade meals in different types of retail food stores [22].

The FAO defines food deserts as geographic areas where grocery stores, farmers markets and other healthy food providers are not located within a reasonable travelling distance of residents, restricting their access to healthy food [5]. Canadian studies described food swamps as geographic areas with access to retailers with healthy food options but also a large number of convenience stores, FF outlets and other outlets that sell predominantly unhealthy foods and beverages [23]. Access to healthy food is therefore restricted in food deserts, while unhealthy food is more readily available in food swamps. Food deserts or food swamps are most likely to occur in resource-poor areas [12, 23, 24]. In the United States of America (USA), a study on FF restaurants and convenience stores within close proximity to schools showed that that convenience stores and FF restaurants are most likely to be located in lower-income neighborhoods, and that convenience stores generally stock limited variety of foods, have high prices and stock foods of a lower quality [25]. Studies have shown that living in close proximity to FF restaurants [24] and greater access to convenience stores in comparison to supermarkets may reflect an unhealthy food environment [26].

Residing in a food desert has been associated with inadequate diets [27] and increased risk of obesity [28]. Resource-poor communities often lack access to healthy food such as fresh FV [29,30,31], and are more susceptible to poor nutrition and diet-related diseases because of their lack of access to healthy and affordable foods [32]. It has been reported that neighborhood deprivation is associated with inadequate dietary patterns [33], and that people with low socioeconomic status (SES) have low quality diets as they consume more energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods [32]. For the purposes of this scoping review the terms community and neighborhoods are used interchangeably.

Research on the food environment is rapidly growing and several systematic reviews on different aspects of the food environment have been published. To date, systematic reviews focused mostly on the relationship of the local food environment with dietary outcomes and nutritional status [10, 34,35,36,37,38], childhood overweight and obesity [26, 39,40,41,42,43], FF access in food environments [44, 45], food purchasing and food environment [46], community and consumer food environment and children’s diet [47,48,49], and the food environment in low- and middle-income countries [35, 50]. Despite the growing body of research, there is limited synthesis on the characteristics of the food environment that relate to food choices per se, particularly for adults residing in resource-poor communities [51, 52].

There is a greater need to understand the relationship between food environments and diets as government and policy makers are seeking interventions to combat the rise of obesity globally [6, 52]. Therefore, the aim of the scoping review is to provide an overview of the evidence on adult food choices in association with the local retail food environment and food access in resource-poor communities. The objectives of the scoping review are to 1) assess whether adult food choices are associated with the local retail food environment in resource-poor communities; and 2) determine the barriers and facilitators for healthy food access within the local retail food environment in resource-poor communities. Food choice in the context of this scoping review refers to dietary and food intake and pertains to diet scores, diet quality, FV intake, food group intake, salty, fatty, and sugary foods and SSB intake. We defined resource-poor communities as low-income communities/neighborhoods, disadvantaged communities/neighborhoods, and/or low-income/low socioeconomic position (SEP) households/individuals.


Study design

A scoping review of the literature on adult food choices in association with the local retail food environment and food access in resource-poor communities was conducted, following the scoping review framework outlined by Arksey and O’Malley [53]. A scoping review was conducted to scope the body of literature and to identify knowledge gaps on the topic. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR) [54] was used to guide the review process (see Additional file 1).

Registration and protocol

The protocol for this scoping review was registered on the Open Science Framework on 9 September 2020 (, and is available online [55].

Search strategy

The population, concept and context (PCC) framework was applied to inform the search strategy [56]. A systematic literature search of eight multidisciplinary databases and a research platform namely, PubMed/MEDLINE, CINAHL, Green FILE, PsycARTICLES, Social Science Research Network, Scopus, Science Direct, Web of Science and EBSCOhost was performed. Search keywords or medical subject headings (MeSH) were used. Details on the keywords and Mesh terms are described in the protocol [55]. The Boolean (AND, OR) method was used to combine search terms. The original search strategy was developed in PubMed/Medline and was adapted to the other databases (detailed search strategies are listed in Additional file 2). The main concepts searched were based on diet/food choice AND adult AND local retail food environment OR community OR consumer food environments AND resource poor AND food access AND store type. Date restrictions in the original search were set between 2005 and January 2021. The search was updated to include studies published between February 2021 and March 2022.

Inclusion criteria

This review included observational studies (cohort, cross-sectional, case–control and ecological studies) examining the association between adult food choices (outcome) and the local retail food environment and food access (exposures) in resource-poor communities, empirical and theoretical studies, studies including adults 18 – 65 years old, studies on the retail food environment, which includes the community and the consumer food environment, studies on food access, food choices and diets of adults in resource-poor communities and English peer-reviewed journal articles from July 2005 to March 2022 [55].

Exclusion criteria

Excluded studies were experimental studies (randomized control trials), systematic reviews, and meta-analysis, research not reported in peer-reviewed journals, studies examining the organizational food environment (home, school, and work) and information environment (television advertising), studies on children, pregnant women, and the elderly, studies that only focus on the food environment and nutritional status, studies focusing on indirect measures of diet, such as food purchasing or the number of food store visits, research papers not written in English, and papers published before July 2005 [55]. After conducting the pilot study ‘Other’ and ‘National study’ were added as the eighth and nineth exclusion reason. ‘Other’ refers to papers that were irrelevant to the study but could not be classified under any of the listed exclusion criteria. ‘National study’ refers to studies for which results were reported at national level, with no distinction between groups or settings of different socio-economic status. After conducting the first round of full text article screening two more exclusion reasons were added: not reporting association between adult food choices and local retail food environment, and not reporting barriers and facilitators for healthy food access in resource-poor communities.


The primary database search was done for studies published between July 2005 and January 2021, which was updated through a second search to include studies published from February 2021 to March 2022 (see Fig. 1). Studies identified were exported to EndNoteX9 library, and duplicates were identified and removed. The primary database search identified 2132 studies, and after duplicates were removed 1583 records remained. Two reviewers (SSM and TL) independently screened the title and abstracts (TIABS). Of the 1583 TIABS screened, 165 were identified as eligible for full-text screening. The two reviewers independently read the full-text articles to determine whether they meet the eligibility criteria. Full-text screening for the primary database search was done in two rounds. In the first round of full-text screening, 165 articles were screened and 121 articles were deemed eligible. In the second round of screening, 121 articles were screened and 42 articles primary database search articles were eligible for inclusion in the scoping review. In the updated database search, 294 records were identified. After removing duplicates, 237 TIABS were screened. After screening TIABS, 10 articles were eligible for full-text screening. After full-text screening of the updated search results, five studies were deemed eligible for inclusion. Therefore, a total of 47 studies (42 articles from the primary search and five from the updated search) were included. Both TIABs and full-text article screening were performed on the Rayyan Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) systematic reviews web application [57].

Fig. 1
figure 1

PRISMA flow diagram of scoping review

Data extraction

A data collection form based on the framework of Arksey and O’Malley [53] was used to obtain the following information from each study: name of authors, title, year of publication, aim/objective of the study, study area, study setting, study participants, sampling method, study design, data collection, measurement tools, data analysis, reported outcomes, most relevant findings, facilitators and barriers (see Additional file 3). The data extraction form was piloted on a sub-sample of 17 articles to ensure the form captures relevant data and ensures consistency between reviewers. The data extraction form was revised to improve capturing of study methods employed in the research. Interrater agreement was high (78%). The percent agreement for two raters was calculated as the number of agreements (full text articles included and excluded by both raters) divided by the sum of the number of agreements and the number of disagreements (conflicts) multiplied by 100 [58]. The calculation was as follows: 137 / (137 + 38) × 100 = 78. Disagreements were resolved through discussion between the two reviewers.

Study characteristics and findings were summarized for all studies, and relevant themes summarized for qualitative and mixed methods studies [53, 59]. We synthesized identified studies by dividing them into two groups 1) studies on the association between food choice and the local retail environment; and 2) studies reporting barrier and facilitators to healthy food access. Barriers and facilitators were further categorized by study design into quantitative, mixed method, and qualitative studies. Qualitative studies and mixed methods reporting relevant qualitative data were grouped together in tables. Quantitative data from mixed method studies were grouped in tables with quantitative data from non-mixed method studies.


Overview of studies included

Forty-seven articles, published between 2006 and 2021, were eligible for inclusion in this review (see Table 1). Most (93.6%) of the studies were cross-sectional in design, except for two cohort studies and one ecological study. To examine the associations between local retail food environment and food choice and to describe barriers and facilitators to healthy food access in the local retail food environment, 23 studies used quantitative methods, nine used qualitative methods, and 15 used mixed methods. Approximately 70% (n = 33) of studies were conducted in the USA, five in Australia, three in Brazil, three in Spain, one in Mexico, one in Netherlands and one in Canada (see Fig. 2). In total, 76.6% (n = 36) of the studies were conducted in urban settings and 14.9% (n = 7) in rural settings. The age of the participants in the studies ranged from 18 to 84 years. Studies were included if the mean age of participants was within the study inclusion criteria. Terms used to describe resource-poor communities included low income, disadvantaged neighborhoods, and low SEP.

Table 1 Characteristics of included studies (n = 47)
Fig. 2
figure 2

Map showing countries of studies included in the scoping review

Assessing associations between retail food environment exposures and food choices

Table 2 shows the studies that assessed the association between the local retail food environment and food choice using Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based measures and store audits/surveys. Of the 19 studies that were included, six examined both the community and consumer food environment [51, 70, 73, 76, 85, 102], ten assessed only the community food environment [75, 80, 87, 88, 91, 93, 94, 96, 97, 103] and three assessed only the consumer food environment [69, 74, 105]. Local retail food environment exposures included availability (n = 8), accessibility (n = 13), perceived access (n = 2), healthy food availability (n = 8), perceived healthy food availability (n = 2), perceived consumer food environment (n = 1), perceived quality (n = 1), price (n = 6), quality (n = 6), variety (n = 2), in-store marketing (n = 6) and product placement (n = 6). Thirteen studies used GIS-based measures to describe the local retail food environment and geocode study participants’ homes and/or store types /outlets. The most used GIS-based measure was accessibility, which was measured as road network distances, Euclidean distances, straight line distance, travel times or spatial interaction models. The second most used GIS-based measure was availability which was measured as presence, ratio, variety, counts (within buffers) or relative density or probability density or kernel density of food stores. Some studies used GIS-based measures along with retrieving registered food store information using business directories and government databases. The use of GIS-based methods to analyze the availability and accessibility of food stores has been discussed in previous reviews [10, 11]. Only one study used global positioning system (GPS) to assess the community food environment [64].

Table 2 Studies assessing the association between the local retail food environment and food choice in studies using GIS-based measures and store audits/surveys

A variety of stores were included in most of the studies. The most common store types were grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, FF restaurants, green grocers, and farmers markets. Tools to measure the consumer food environment were the Nutrition Environment Measure Survey (NEMS) (n = 4), Obesogenic Environment Study food store observation tool (ESAO-S) (n = 2), Bridging the Gap Community Obesity Measures project (n = 2), healthy food basket (n = 1) and store audit (n = 1). Only one study used the NEMS-R to collect information on restaurants, and one used the NEMS-P to assess perceptions of the consumer food environment. Food choices/dietary outcomes examined included FV intake (n = 15), FF consumption (n = 4), SSB intake (n = 4), snacks (n = 2), food groups (n = 2) and dietary quality indices such as Healthy Eating Index (HEI) (n = 2), Alternative Healthy Eating Index score (AHEI) (n = 1) and A Priori diet quality score (n = 1). Most studies (n = 17) used questionnaires (set questions or food frequency questionnaires) to assess food choices and two studies assessed dietary intake using 24-h recalls (n = 2).

Community food environment and consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods

Four studies found no association between proximity to grocery stores or supermarkets and FV intake [69, 70, 76, 80], and one study found no association between accessibility to supermarkets or green grocers and vegetable consumption [75]. Living near a fresh food source was associated with higher FV consumption [70]. A greater density of greengrocers and supermarkets was associated with frequent consumption of vegetables[51]. Living close to a FF restaurant [87, 88], and a higher density of grocery stores [70], supercenters and supermarkets [80] and unhealthy food stores such as bars, snack bars and food trucks within neighborhoods were associated with lower FV intake [91].

A cross-sectional study in the USA found an association between closer proximity to a supermarket and higher intake of both healthy and unhealthy food groups respectively [87]. Another study in the USA reported no association between living in closer proximity to grocery store and consumption of healthy proteins like beans, chicken and fish, but higher density of grocery stores was associated with eating unhealthy fats [70].

With regards to SSB, one study in the USA reported that closer proximity to and higher density of grocery stores were associated with greater consumption of SSB [70], while another USA study showed no association between proximity to healthy food stores and SSB consumption [76]. Although availability of convenience stores was associated with lower diet quality in low-income individuals in four USA cities it was not associated with SSB consumption [93]. Also, a Brazilian study reported that proximity to and density of supermarkets and fresh produce were not associated with SSB consumption [73].

Five studies assessed the association between community food environment and FF consumption. Living further away from a FF restaurant (including traditional, non-traditional or all FF) [94] or a healthy food source such as a supermarket [96] was associated with lower FF consumption. Highly disadvantaged neighborhoods in comparison to low disadvantaged neighborhoods had lower density and variety of FF restaurants [51].

Community food environment and overall diet quality

Closer proximity to healthy food stores was associated with higher HEI scores [76], and closer proximity to supermarkets was associated with higher AHEI scores [75].

Consumer food environment and consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods

A Brazilian study found no relationship between grocery stores and FV intake however, better access to healthy foods in stores and specialized FV markets was associated with greater FV intake [69]. In contrast, a study in rural USA found no association between healthy food availability and FV intake [102]. In another USA study, perceived neighborhood food availability was associated with higher vegetable consumption [85]. An Australian study reported that higher perception of healthy food availability and perceived lower cost of fruit was associated with high fruit consumption [103]. A USA study reported a negative association between availability of healthy food in stores and SSB consumption [70]. An Australian study reported that prices in both greengrocers and supermarkets were positively associated with consumption of FV[51]. Affordability (price) was reported not to be associated with overall food intake [70] and FV and SSB consumption [73], while marketing was positively associated with vegetable consumption [105]. Perceived greater variety of stores and quality of local grocery stores was not associated with consumption of FV [74].

Barriers and facilitators for access to healthy food in resource-poor communities

Qualitative studies

Table 3 shows the barriers and facilitators for access to healthy food in resource-poor communities as reported in nine qualitative and eleven mixed method studies. In resource-poor communities, high food costs were cited as the main barrier to healthy food access [60, 62, 71, 78, 79, 81, 82, 86, 92, 95, 98, 104]. The second major barrier to healthy food access was transportation (lack of public transportation or car ownership) [61, 62, 77, 79, 81, 82, 84, 90, 92, 95]. Seven studies reported geographic access as barrier to healthy food access [61, 71, 81, 84, 89, 92, 95]. Five studies reported the presence of unhealthy food stores such as corner /convenience stores and FF restaurants as barrier to healthy food access [77, 79, 82, 89, 95]. A lack of healthy food availability [60, 104], the presence of unhealthy foods in various stores [71, 77] and lack of quality and variety FV [79, 81, 104] were perceived as barriers to healthy food access in the consumer food environment. Two studies reported that living in a food desert was a barrier to healthy food access [100, 104].

Table 3 Barriers and facilitators for healthy food access in resource poor communities identified in qualitative and mixed methods

In terms of store type, supermarkets, discount stores, large grocery stores and traditional stores, farmers markets and street vendors/ FV stands were perceived as major facilitators for healthy food access in resource poor communities [71, 72, 84, 86, 98, 100]. Three studies reported that lower food cost in food stores such as supermarkets, discount stores was a facilitator for healthy food access in resource poor communities [71, 82, 86]. Consumer food environment characteristics such as in-store availability of healthy foods [71], quality [77], marketing and sales [83] and variety [90] were also perceived as facilitators for healthy food access.

Two studies in the USA reported that food assistance from non-profit organizations and government programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) increased healthy food access for residents in communities [95, 100]. Individual strategies such as gardening, fishing and hunting [82], purchasing from various sources, buying in bulk and buying store brands [95] also enabled healthy food access.

Quantitative studies

Table 4 shows the barriers and facilitators for healthy food access in resource poor communities as reported in five quantitative and three mixed method studies. Living further away from grocery stores [63, 68, 99] and shorter operating hours of healthy food stores [67] were associated with poor healthy food access. Barriers to healthy food access include in-store high food prices [63, 99], unavailability of healthy foods [68] and product placement and promotion of unhealthy food items [64]. Access to healthy food was also limited by a lack of access to a car or lack of transportation [65] as well as neighborhood crime and safety issues [68, 99]. Facilitators for healthy food access include public markets [64], vehicle ownership [65], in-store prices [66], access to fresh produce and public transportation [101].

Table 4 Barriers and facilitators for healthy food access in resource poor communities identified in quantitative studies


This scoping review provides an overview of the evidence on adult food choices in association with the local retail food environment and barriers and facilitators for food access in resource-poor communities. Literature shows that food environments may differ across communities, neighborhoods, cities and countries [34]. In contrast to previous reviews that focused on the food environment in different countries, this review focused on studies that reported on low-income communities/neighborhoods and/or low-income households. Results on associations between food choice (dietary outcomes) and the local retail food environment were inconsistent. Numerous studies have stated that heterogeneity of measurement tools for the community and consumer food environment contribute to difficulty with interpreting study outcomes [8, 29, 32, 40, 43]. The standardization of measures to assess the food environment is therefore needed. Recent systematic reviews on food environment and diet in various settings also reported inconclusive findings [10, 35]. Similarly, also to other reviews, mostly cross-sectional studies were included and only two longitudinal studies were included in the present review. This scoping review shows that in resource-poor communities, cost, transportation, limited geographic access, and the presence of unhealthy food stores are the main barriers for access to healthy food. Facilitators that enable access to healthy food include store types such as supermarkets, large grocery stores and farmers markets, lower in-store food prices, food assistance programs, access to transportation, in-store availability, quality, and marketing of healthy food.

Many studies included in this review measured accessibility and availability of food stores within neighborhoods, and consumption of FV and SSB respectively were the most frequently studied dietary outcome. Other reviews have also reported that FV intake was the most common outcome measure [10, 28]. It has been postulated that accessibility to FV stores may influence consumption of FV [29]. In the present review, there was no association found between accessibility and FV intake, while retail food environments were associated with SSB consumption. This review has found little evidence to suggest that in resource-poor communities lower FF consumption is associated with inaccessibility and lack of FF restaurants. These findings suggest that greater access to FF restaurants may encourage unhealthy food choices that are contrary to dietary recommendations that aim to promote healthier food choices [27]. A few studies in the present review reported findings on the association between affordability, price, variety, marketing, quality, and placement (shelf space for healthier food products and unhealthy snacks and drinks), perceived consumer environment and food choices. No studies included in the scoping review reported on the association between food promotion (signage, in-store advertising, health/education materials near food products) and food choices.

In this scoping review, cost and transportation were identified as the two major barriers for access to healthy food in resource-poor communities. It is well known that cost is a barrier to healthy diets worldwide [106]. The availability of transportation allows residents to shop anywhere they can access healthy foods, even if these foods aren't readily available in their neighborhood [107]. This scoping review further shows that lower food prices and store types such as supermarkets, discount stores, large grocery stores and traditional stores, farmers markets and street vendors/ FV stands were considered major facilitators to healthy food access. Food pricing policies such as taxes, price manipulations of SSB, energy dense, low nutrient or high in added sugars or saturated fats and food subsidies on FV can promote healthy diets [106]. A systematic review reported that pricing interventions used in high- and middle-income countries positively affect consumer behavior and improve purchasing and consumption of healthy foods and beverages [108]. Another systematic review found, however, that while policies and FV subsidies are being implemented and supermarkets are becoming more common among resource-poor communities in an attempt to change diets positively [109], supply and demand issues have prevented the expected change [110]. Therefore, increasing proximity does not necessarily result in consumers purchasing and consuming more healthy foods. Sawyer and colleagues stated that for change in unhealthy food environments, creative strategies that support household finances at individual level and transform societal behavior to encourage healthy food production, supply and intake are needed [34].

In this scoping review, convenience/corner stores were also identified as a barrier to healthy food access in resource poor communities. Also, higher neighborhood density of convenience stores was shown to be associated with poor quality diets [93]. To encourage healthier food choices, stores can implement various in-store marketing, placement and pricing strategies as reported in studies conducted in the USA, Australia, and Canada [111,112,113,114]. For example, stores can allocate more shelf space to display healthy foods, have more refrigerators to store FV, improve the exterior of the store to improving community perception, and assist with promotion and marketing of healthier foods (using shelf labels, call out messages, food and beverage price discounts, placing healthier foods instead of unhealthy foods at eye level or in checkout areas) [111,112,113,114]. In the USA, nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP and WIC were reported to increase healthy food access for residents in resource-poor communities [95, 100], and encouraging convenience/corner stores to accept nutrition assistance program benefits may improve healthy food access [106, 108, 109]. Various USA based non-profit organizations, community organizations, and local governments have developed interventions to increase access to healthy foods by modifying existing stores to be healthier food outlets [115].

The present study had several strengths and limitations. To ensure a transparent, reproducible review process and to guide the reporting of results (synthesis), we followed the PRISMA-SCR guidelines. A strict eligibility criterion was followed, and selection and data extraction of studies were done by two reviewers to minimize selection bias. Only published peer-reviewed studies were included whilst grey literature was excluded. The use of peer-reviewed literature may lead to publication bias because studies with null or negative association may not have been published. However, to minimize bias, nine databases were used to search for literature. Restrictions on the publication language is a limitation as articles that were not written in English were potentially excluded. No formal appraisal was conducted since the purpose of a scoping review is to describe evidence, not to assess its quality. The lack of appraisal may have resulted in inclusion of studies with poor methodological quality. The present study included mostly cross-sectional studies therefore we cannot determine a causal relationship between local retail food environment and food choices. Research using longitudinal study designs have been recommended to account for changes in the food environment over time and to improve the quality of evidence [31, 45]. Most studies included in the present review were conducted in the USA, Brazil, and Australia therefore these findings cannot be generalized for other regions. It is recommended that more studies be conducted in European, Asian, and African communities for more evidence on the relationship between local retail food environment and adult food choices.


The present scoping review found confounding evidence on the relationship between adult food choices and the local retail food environment. Inconclusive findings may be partly due to heterogeneity in measures of food environment exposures. Nonetheless, store types such as supermarkets, large grocery stores and farmers markets, lower in-store food prices and food assistance programs were identified as the main facilitators to healthy food access in resource poor-communities, while high food cost and lack of transportation were identified as the major barriers. Interventions to improve the retail food environment and access to healthy food are mostly based in the USA, Canada, and Australia [116, 117]. Regionally specific interventions to improve healthy food access need to be developed. Evidence on food choices within the context of the retail food environment in countries in Asia and Africa is lacking, and research in these regions are needed to enable the develop of interventions to improve access to healthy food [35, 50].

Availability of data and materials

The data supporting the conclusions of this study are included in this published article and its supplementary information files.



Alternative healthy eating index


Artificially sweetened beverages


Bridging the gap community obesity measures


Obesogenic environment study food store observation tool


Fast food


Food frequency questionnaire


Fruits and vegetables


Geographic information system


Healthy eating index


Healthy food store index


Nutrition environment measures survey


Nutrition environment measures survey corner store


Perceived nutrition environment survey


Nutrition environment measures survey restaurant


Population, concept and context


Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses extension for scoping reviews


Socioeconomic position


Socioeconomic status


Supplemental nutrition assistance program


Sugar-sweetened beverages


Socioeconomic status


Titles and abstracts


Women, infants, and children


  1. Afshin A, Sur PJ, Fay KA, Cornaby L, Ferrara G, Salama JS, Mullany EC, Abate KH, Abbafati C, Abebe Z, et al. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: A systematic analysis for the global burden of disease study 2017. Lancet. 2019;393:1958–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition (GloPAN). Food systems and diets: Facing the challenges of the 21st century. 2016. London, UK. Accessed 19 Jul 2020.

  3. World Health Organization (WHO). Noncommunicable diseases. 2022. Accessed 30 Sept 2022

  4. Food and Argiculture Organization (FAO): The state of food security and nutrition in the world 2021. In. Rome: FAO; 2021. Accessed 25 Aug 2022.

  5. High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE). Nutrition and food systems. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security. In. Edited by HLPE. Rome; 2017. . Accessed 10 Mar 2022.

  6. Swinburn B, Sacks G, Vandevijvere S, Kumanyika S, Lobstein T, Neal B, Barquera S, Friel S, Hawkes C, Kelly B, et al. INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support): overview and key principles. Obes Rev. 2013;14(Suppl 1):1–12.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Food and Argiculture Organization (FAO): Influencing food environments for healthy diets. In. Rome: FAO; 2016. Accessed 11 Oct 2019.

  8. Glanz K, Sallis JF, Saelens BE, Frank LD. Healthy nutrition environments: concepts and measures. Am J Health Promot. 2005;19:330–3.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthier food retail: an action guide for public health practitioners. 2014. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Atlanta. Accessed 28 Jun 2020.

  10. Caspi CE, Sorensen G, Subramanian SV, Kawachi I. The local food environment and diet: a systematic review. Health Place. 2012;18(5):1172–87.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. Charreire H, Casey R, Salze P, Simon C, Chaix B, Banos A, Badariotti D, Weber C, Oppert JM. Measuring the food environment using geographical information systems: a methodological review. Public Health Nutr. 2010;13:1773–85.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Black C, Moon G, Baird J. Dietary inequalities: what is the evidence for the effect of the neighbourhood food environment? Health Place. 2014;27:229–42.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Yamaguchi M, Praditsorn P, Purnamasari SD, Sranacharoenpong K, Arai Y, Sundermeir SM, Gittelsohn J, Hadi H, Nishi N. Measures of perceived neighborhood food environments and dietary habits: a systematic review of methods and associations. Nutrients. 2022;14:1788.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  14. Sobal J, Bisogni CA, Devine CM, Jastran M: A conceptual model of the food choice process over the life course. In: The psychology of food choice. edn.: Cabi Wallingford UK; 2006: 1–18.

  15. Larson N, Story M. A review of environmental influences on food choices. Ann Behav Med. 2009;38(Suppl 1):S56-73.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Turner C, Aggarwal A, Walls H, Herforth A, Drewnowski A, Coates J, Kalamatianou S, Kadiyala S. Concepts and critical perspectives for food environment research: a global framework with implications for action in low- and middle-income countries. Glob Food Sec. 2018;18:93–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Mah CL, Cook B, Rideout K, Minaker LM. Policy options for healthier retail food environments in city-regions. Can J Public Health. 2016;107(Suppl 1):5343.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Herforth A, Ahmed S. The food environment, its effects on dietary consumption, and potential for measurement within agriculture-nutrition interventions. Food Secur. 2015;7:505–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hawkes C, Smith TG, Jewell J, Wardle J, Hammond RA, Friel S, Thow AM, Kain J. Smart food policies for obesity prevention. Lancet. 2015;385:2410–21.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Story M, Kaphingst KM, Robinson-O’Brien R, Glanz K. Creating healthy food and eating environments: policy and environmental approaches. Annu Rev Public Health. 2008;29:253–72.

  21. Popkin BM, Adair LS, Ng SW. Global nutrition transition and the pandemic of obesity in developing countries. Nutr Rev. 2012;70:3–21.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Kant AK, Graubard BI. Secular trends in the association of socio-economic position with self-reported dietary attributes and biomarkers in the US population: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1971–1975 to NHANES 1999–2002. Public Health Nutr. 2007;10:158–67.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Minaker LM, Shuh A, Olstad DL, Engler-Stringer R, Black JL, Mah CL. Retail food environments research in Canada: a scoping review. Can J Public Health. 2016;107(Suppl 1):5344.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Hilmers A, Hilmers DC, Dave J. Neighborhood disparities in access to healthy foods and their effects on environmental justice. Am J Public Health. 2012;102:1644–54.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  25. Zenk SN, Powell LM. US secondary schools and food outlets. Health Place. 2008;14:336–46.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Xin J, Zhao L, Wu T, Zhang L, Li Y, Xue H, Xiao Q, Wang R, Xu P, Visscher T, et al. Association between access to convenience stores and childhood obesity: a systematic review. Obes Rev. 2021;22(Suppl 1):e12908.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Morland K, Diez Roux AV, Wing S. Supermarkets, other food stores, and obesity: the atherosclerosis risk in communities study. Am J Prev Med. 2006;30:333–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Giskes K, van Lenthe F, Avendano-Pabon M, Brug J. A systematic review of environmental factors and obesogenic dietary intakes among adults: are we getting closer to understanding obesogenic environments? Obes Rev. 2011;12:e95–106.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Evans A, Banks K, Jennings R, Nehme E, Nemec C, Sharma S, Hussaini A, Yaroch A. Increasing access to healthful foods: a qualitative study with residents of low-income communities. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2015;12:S5.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  30. Kim M, Budd N, Batorsky B, Krubiner C, Manchikanti S, Waldrop G, Trude A, Gittelsohn J. Barriers to and facilitators of stocking healthy food options: viewpoints of Baltimore City small storeowners. Ecol Food Nutr. 2017;56:17–30.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Grimm KAML, Scanlon KS. Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC): access to healthier food retailers - United States. MMWR Surveillance Summary. 2011;62(Suppl 3):20–6.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Ohri-Vachaspati P, DeWeese RS, Acciai F, DeLia D, Tulloch D, Tong D, Lorts C, Yedidia M. Healthy food access in low-income high-minority communities: a longitudinal assessment-2009-2017. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16:13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Dubowitz T, Heron M, Bird CE, Lurie N, Finch BK, Basurto-Dávila R, Hale L, Escarce JJ. Neighborhood socioeconomic status and fruit and vegetable intake among whites, blacks, and Mexican Americans in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:1883–91.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Sawyer ADM, van Lenthe F, Kamphuis CBM, Terragni L, Roos G, Poelman MP, Nicolaou M, Waterlander W, Djojosoeparto SK, Scheidmeir M, et al. Dynamics of the complex food environment underlying dietary intake in low-income groups: a systems map of associations extracted from a systematic umbrella literature review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2021;18:96.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  35. Westbury S, Ghosh I, Jones HM, Mensah D, Samuel F, Irache A, Azhar N, Al-Khudairy L, Iqbal R, Oyebode O. The influence of the urban food environment on diet, nutrition and health outcomes in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review. BMJ Glob Health. 2021;6:10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Bivoltsis A, Cervigni E, Trapp G, Knuiman M, Hooper P, Ambrosini GL. Food environments and dietary intakes among adults: does the type of spatial exposure measurement matter? a systematic review. Int J Health Geogr. 2018;17:19.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  37. Wilkins E, Radley D, Morris M, Hobbs M, Christensen A, Marwa WL, Morrin A, Griffiths C. A systematic review employing the GeoFERN framework to examine methods, reporting quality and associations between the retail food environment and obesity. Health Place. 2019;57:186–99.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. An R, He L, Shen MSJ. Impact of neighbourhood food environment on diet and obesity in China: a systematic review. Public Health Nutr. 2020;23:457–73.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Osei-Assibey G, Dick S, Macdiarmid J, Semple S, Reilly JJ, Ellaway A, Cowie H, McNeill G. The influence of the food environment on overweight and obesity in young children: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2012;2:e001538.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  40. Zhou P, Li R, Liu K. The neighborhood food environment and the onset of child-hood obesity: a retrospective time-trend study in a mid-sized city in China. Front Public Health. 2021;9:688767.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  41. Zhou Q, Zhao L, Zhang L, Xiao Q, Wu T, Visscher T, Zhao J, Xin J, Yu X, Xue H, et al. Neighborhood supermarket access and childhood obesity: a systematic review. Obes Rev. 2021;22 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):e12937.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Li Y, Luo M, Wu X, Xiao Q, Luo J, Jia P. Grocery store access and childhood obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2021;22 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):e12945.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Jia P, Luo M, Li Y, Zheng JS, Xiao Q, Luo J. Fast-food restaurant, unhealthy eating, and childhood obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2021;Suppl 1(Suppl 1):e12944.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Fleischhacker SE, Evenson KR, Rodriguez DA, Ammerman AS. A systematic review of fast food access studies. Obes Rev. 2011;12:e460–71.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Antonio G, Mohansrinivasa C. Exploring the relationship between the fast food environment and obesity rates in the US vs . abroad: a systematic review. J Obes Weight Loss Ther. 2017;8:1–17.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Harbers MC, Beulens JWJ, Rutters F, de Boer F, Gillebaart M, Sluijs I, van der Schouw YT. The effects of nudges on purchases, food choice, and energy intake or content of purchases in real-life food purchasing environments: A systematic review and evidence synthesis. Nutr J. 2020;19:103.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  47. Engler-Stringer R, Le H, Gerrard A, Muhajarine N. The community and consumer food environment and children’s diet: a systematic review. BMC Public Health. 2014;14:522.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  48. da Costa Peres CM, Gardone DS, Costa BVL, Duarte CK, Pessoa MC, Mendes LL. Retail food environment around schools and overweight: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2020;78:841–56.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  49. Williams J, Scarborough P, Matthews A, Cowburn G, Foster C, Roberts N, Rayner M. A systematic review of the influence of the retail food environment around schools on obesity-related outcomes. Obes Rev. 2014;15:359–74.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  50. Turner C, Kalamatianou S, Drewnowski A, Kulkarni B, Kinra S, Kadiyala S. Food environment research in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic scoping review. Adv Nutr. 2020;11:387–97.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  51. Thornton LE, Crawford DA, Ball K. Neighbourhood-socioeconomic variation in women’s diet: the role of nutrition environments. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010;64:1423–32.

  52. Blake CE, Frongillo EA, Warren AM, Constantinides SV, Rampalli KK, Bhandari S. Elaborating the science of food choice for rapidly changing food systems in low-and middle-income countries. Glob Food Sec. 2021;28:100503.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Arksey H, O’Malley L. Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. Int J Soc Res Methodol. 2005;8:19–32.

  54. Tricco AC, Lillie E, Zarin W, O’Brien KK, Colquhoun H, Levac D, Moher D, Peters MDJ, Horsley T, Weeks L, et al. PRISMA extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR): checklist and explanation. Ann Intern Med. 2018;169:467–73.

  55. Madlala S, Hill J, Kunneke E, Faber M. Adult food choices in association with the local retail food environment and food access in resource-poor communities: a scoping review protocol. BMJ Open. 2021;11:e044904.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  56. Joanna Briggs Institute: Joanna Briggs Institute reviewers' manual: 2014 Edition. In.: Joanna Briggs Institute Adelaide; 2014.

  57. Ouzzani M, Hammady H, Fedorowicz Z, Elmagarmid A. Rayyan—a web and mobile app for systematic reviews. Syst Rev. 2016;5:210.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  58. McHugh ML. Interrater reliability: the kappa statistic. Biochem Med. 2012;22:276–82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Levac D, Colquhoun H, O’Brien KK. Scoping studies: advancing the methodology. Implement Sci. 2010;5:69.

  60. Alkon A, Block D, Moore K, Gillis C, DiNuccio N, Chavez N, Alkon AH, Block D, Moore K, Gillis C, et al. Foodways of the urban poor. Geoforum. 2013;48:126–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Andress L, Fitch C. Juggling the five dimensions of food access: perceptions of rural low income residents. Appetite. 2016;105:151–5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  62. Bardenhagen C, Pinard C, Pirog R, Yaroch A. Characterizing rural food access in remote areas. J Community Health. 2017;42:1008–19.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  63. Breyer B, Voss-Andreae A. Food mirages: Geographic and economic barriers to healthful food access in Portland. Oregon Health & Place. 2013;24:131–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Bridle-Fitzpatrick S. Food deserts or food swamps?: A mixed-methods study of local food environments in a Mexican city. Soc Sci Med. 2015;142:202–13.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  65. Burns C, Inglis A, Burns CM, Inglis AD. Measuring food access in Melbourne: access to healthy and fast foods by car, bus and foot in an urban municipality in Melbourne. Health Place. 2007;13:877–85.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  66. Cassady D, Jetter KM, Culp J. Is price a barrier to eating more fruits and vegetables for low-income families? J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107:1909–15.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  67. Chen X, Clark J, Chen X, Clark J. Measuring space-time access to food retailers: a case of temporal access disparity in franklin county. Ohio Prof Geogr. 2016;68:175–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Childs J, Lewis LR. Food deserts and a southwest community of Baltimore City. Food Cult Soc. 2012;15:395–414.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. de Menezes M, Roux A, Costa B, Lopes A, de Menezes MC, Roux AVD, de Lima Costa BV, Souza Lopes AC. Individual and food environmental factors: association with diet. Public Health Nutr. 2018;21:2782–92.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  70. Diehl J, Heard D, Lockhart S, Main D, Diehl JA, Heard D, Lockhart S, Main DS. Access in the food environment: A health equity approach reveals unequal opportunity. JPER. 2020;40:69–81.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Diez J, Valiente R, Ramos C, Garcia R, Gittelsohn J, Franco M, Diez J, Valiente R, Ramos C, Garcia R, et al. The mismatch between observational measures and residents’ perspectives on the retail food environment: a mixed-methods approach in the Heart Healthy Hoods study. Public Health Nutr. 2017;20:2970–9.

  72. Díez J, Conde PM, Urtasun M, López R, Carrero JL, Gittelsohn J, Franco M. in M, Urtasun M, López R, Carrero JL, Gittelsohn J, Franco M: Understanding the local food environment: A participatory photovoice project in a low-income area in Madrid, Spain. Health & Place. 2017;43:95–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Duran A, de Almeida S, Latorre M, Jaime P, Duran AC, de Almeida SL. Latorre MdRDO, Jaime PC: The role of the local retail food environment in fruit, vegetable and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in Brazil. Public Health Nutr. 2016;19:1093–102.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  74. Flint E, Cummins S, Matthews S, Flint E, Cummins S, Matthews S. Do perceptions of the neighbourhood food environment predict fruit and vegetable intake in low-income neighbourhoods? Health Place. 2013;24:11–5.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  75. Gao X, Engeda J, Moore LV, Auchincloss AH, Moore K, Mujahid MS. Longitudinal associations between objective and perceived healthy food environment and diet: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Soc Sci Med. 2022;292:N.PAG-N.PAG.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Glickman AR, Clark JK, Freedman DA. A relational approach to evaluate food environments finds that the proximate food environment matters for those who use it. Health Place. 2021;69:102564.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  77. Gravina L, Jauregi A, Estebanez A, Fernández-Aedo I, Guenaga N, Ballesteros-Peña S, Díez J, Franco M: Residents' perceptions of their local food environment in socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods: A photovoice study. Appetite. 2020;147:N.PAG-N.PAG.

  78. Harbers MC, Middel CNH, Stuber JM, Beulens JWJ, Rutters F, van der Schouw YT. Determinants of food choice and perceptions of supermarket-based nudging interventions among adults with low socioeconomic position: The SUPREME NUDGE Project. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18:11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Haynes-Maslow L, Parsons SE, Wheeler SB, Leone LA. A qualitative study of perceived barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income populations, North Carolina, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2013;10:E34–E34.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  80. Haynes-Maslow L, McGuirt J, Trippichio G, Armstrong-Brown J, Ammerman A, Leone L. Examining commonly used perceived and objective measures of fruit and vegetable access in low-income populations and their association with consumption. Transl Behav Med. 2020;10:1342–9.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  81. Hendrickson D, Smith C, Eikenberry N, Hendrickson D, Smith C, Eikenberry N. Fruit and vegetable access in four low-income food deserts communities in Minnesota. Agric Hum Values. 2006;23:371–83.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Holston D, Stroope J, Greene M, Houghtaling B, Holston D, Stroope J, Greene M, Houghtaling B. Perceptions of the food environment and access among predominantly black low-income residents of rural Louisiana communities. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17:15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Jiang Q, Francis SL, Chapman-Novakofski KM, Wilt M, Carbone ET, Cohen NL. Perceived environmental supports for fruit and vegetable consumption among older adults in the US. Nutr Health. 2021;27:309–19.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  84. Jilcott S, Hurwitz J, Moore J, Blake C, Jilcott SB, Hurwitz J, Moore JB, Blake C. Qualitative Perspectives on the use of traditional and nontraditional food venues among middle- and low-income women in eastern North Carolina. Ecol Food Nutr. 2010;49:373–89.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  85. Karpyn A, Young C, Collier Z, Glanz K, Karpyn A, Young CR, Collier Z, Glanz K. Correlates of healthy eating in urban food desert communities. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17:17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  86. Ko L, Enzler C, Perry C, Rodriguez E, Marisal N, Linde S, Duggan C, Ko LK, Enzler C, ra et al: Food availability and food access in rural agricultural communities: use of mixed methods BMC Public Health. 2018;18:634.

  87. LeDoux TF, Vojnovic I. Examining the role between the residential neighborhood food environment and diet among low-income households in detroit. Michigan Appl Geogr. 2014;55:9–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  88. Leonard T, McKillop C, Carson J, Shuval K, Leonard T, McKillop C, Carson JA, Shuval K. Neighborhood effects on food consumption. J Behav Exp Econ. 2014;51:99–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  89. Libman K. Has New York City fallen into the local trap? Public Health. 2015;129:310–7.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  90. MacNell L, Elliott S, Hardison-Moody A, Bowen S, MacNell L, Elliott S, Hardison-Moody A, Bowen S. Black and Latino urban food desert residents’ perceptions of their food environment and factors that influence food shopping decisions. J Hunger Environ Nutr. 2017;12:375–93.

  91. Pessoa MC, Mendes LL, Gomes CS, Martins PA, Velasquez-Melendez G. Food environment and fruit and vegetable intake in a urban population: a multilevel analysis. BMC Public Health. 2015;15:1–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Rodriguez R, Grahame K, Rodriguez RM, Grahame KM. Understanding food access in a rural community an ecological perspective. Food Cult Soc. 2016;19:171–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  93. Rummo P, Meyer K, Boone-Heinonen J, Jacobs D, Kiefe C, Lewis C, Steffen L, Gordon-Larsen P, Rummo PE, Meyer KA, et al. Neighborhood availability of convenience stores and diet quality: findings from 20 years of follow-up in the coronary artery risk development in young adults study. Am J Public Health. 2015;105:E65–73.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  94. Sharkey JR, Johnson CM, Dean WR, Horel SA. Association between proximity to and coverage of traditional fast-food restaurants and nontraditional fast-food outlets and fast-food consumption among rural adults. Int J Health Geogr. 2011;10:37–47.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  95. Tach L, Amorim M, Tach L, Amorim M. Constrained, convenient, and symbolic consumption: neighborhood food environments and economic coping strategies among the urban poor. J Urban Health. 2015;92:815–34.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  96. Thornton L, Jeffery R, Crawford D, Thornton LE, Jeffery RW, Crawford DA. Barriers to avoiding fast-food consumption in an environment supportive of unhealthy eating. Public Health Nutr. 2013;16:2105–13.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  97. Thornton LE, Lamb KE, Tseng M, Crawford DA, Ball K. Does food store access modify associations between intrapersonal factors and fruit and vegetable consumption? Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015;69:902–6.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  98. Valdez Z, Ramírez AS, Estrada E, Grassi K, Nathan S. Community perspectives on access to and availability of healthy food in rural, low-resource. Latino Communities Prev Chronic Dis. 2016;13:1–11.

    Google Scholar 

  99. Vallianatos M, Azuma AM, Gilliland S, Gottlieb R. Food access, availability, and affordability in 3 Los Angeles communities, Project CAFE, 2004–2006. Prev Chronic Dis. 2010;7:A27.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  100. Walker R, Fryer C, Butler J, Keane C, Kriska A, Burke J, Walker RE, Fryer CS, Butler J, Keane CR, et al. Factors influencing food buying practices in residents of a low-income food desert and a low-income food oasis. J Mix Methods Res. 2011;5:247–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  101. Wang H, Qiu F. Fresh food access revisited. Cities. 2016;51:64–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  102. Waters C, Zoellner J, Estabrooks P, Hill J, Waters CN, Zoellner JM, Estabrooks PA, Hill JL. Is the availability of healthy foods related to fruit and vegetable consumption in a rural, health-disparate region? J Hunger Environ Nutr. 2018;13:289–303.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  103. Williams L, Ball K, Crawford D. Why do some socioeconomically disadvantaged women eat better than others? An investigation of the personal, social and environmental correlates of fruit and vegetable consumption. Appetite. 2010;55:441–6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  104. Zenk S, Odoms-Young A, Dallas C, Hardy E, Watkins A, Hoskins-Wroten J, Holl L, Zenk SN, Odoms-Young AM, et al. “You Have to Hunt for the Fruits, the Vegetables”: Environmental barriers and adaptive strategies to acquire food in a low-income African American neighborhood. Health Educ Behav. 2011;38:282–92.

  105. Zhao A, McGowan C, Zenk S, Kershaw K, Zhao AW, McGowan CC, Zenk SN, Kershaw KN. Associations of the consumer food environment with eating behaviours and BMI. Public Health Nutr. 2020;23:3197–203.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  106. ​​​Herforth A, Bai, Y., Venkat, A., Mahrt, K., Ebel, A. & Masters, W.A.: Cost and affordability of healthy diets across and within countries. Background paper for the state of food security and nutrition in the world 2020. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Technical Study No. 9. In. Rome: FAO; 2020. Accessed 4 Oct 2021.​

  107. Liu JL, Han B, Cohen DA. Beyond neighborhood food environments: distance traveled to food establishments in 5 US Cities, 2009–2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2015;12:E126.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  108. Gittelsohn J, Trude A, Kim H. Pricing strategies to encourage availability, purchase, and consumption of healthy foods and beverages: a systematic review. Prev Chronic Dis. 2017;14:E107.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  109. Olstad DL, Ancilotto R, Teychenne M, Minaker LM, Taber DR, Raine KD, Nykiforuk CIJ, Ball K. Can targeted policies reduce obesity and improve obesity-related behaviours in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations? A systematic review Obes Rev. 2017;18:791–807.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  110. Allcott H, Diamond R, Dubé J-P, Handbury J, Rahkovsky I, Schnell M. Food deserts and the causes of nutritional inequality. Q J Econ. 2019;134:1793–844.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  111. The Food Trust: Healthy Corner Store Initiative Overview. 2014. Accessed 18 Jun 2019.

  112. Ferguson M, O’Dea K, Holden S, Miles E, Brimblecombe J. Food and beverage price discounts to improve health in remote Aboriginal communities: Mixed method evaluation of a natural experiment. ANZJPH. 2017;41:32–7.

  113. Hobin E, Bollinger B, Sacco J, Liebman E, Vanderlee L, Zuo F, Rosella L, L’Abbe M, Manson H, Hammond D. Consumers’ response to an on-shelf nutrition labelling system in supermarkets: evidence to inform policy and practice. Milbank Q. 2017;95:494–534.

  114. Meghan L. Exploring sales data during a healthy corner store intervention in Toronto: The Food Retail Environments Shaping Health (FRESH) project. HPCDP. 2017;37:342.

    Google Scholar 

  115. Gittelsohn J, Laska MN, Karpyn A, Klingler K, Ayala GX. Lessons learned from small store programs to increase healthy food access. Am J Health Behav. 2014;38:307–15.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  116. Mah CL, Luongo G, Hasdell R, Taylor NGA, Lo BK. A systematic review of the effect of retail food environment interventions on diet and health with a focus on the enabling role of public policies. Curr Nutr Rep. 2019;8:411–28.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  117. Luongo G, Skinner K, Phillipps B, Yu Z, Martin D, Mah CL. The retail food environment, store foods, and diet and health among indigenous populations: a scoping review. Curr Obes Rep. 2020;9:288–306.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


Not applicable.


The work reported herein was made possible through funding by the South African Medical Research Council through its Division of Research Capacity Development under the Internship Scholarship Programme from funding received from the South African National Treasury. The content hereof is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the SAMRC or the funders.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



SSM, JH, EK, MF conceptualized the study and designed the manuscript. SSM was responsible for conducting the searches, drafting the manuscript and prepared Figs. 12. SSM and TL were responsible for the screening, selection, and data extraction of the studies. SSM with the guidance of MF prepared Tables 1, 2, 3, 4. All authors edited and gave input of the draft and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Samukelisiwe S. Madlala.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Additional file 1.

Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) Checklist.

Additional file 2:

Table S1. Database search strategies.

Additional file 3

: Table S2. Data extraction form.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Madlala, S.S., Hill, J., Kunneke, E. et al. Adult food choices in association with the local retail food environment and food access in resource-poor communities: a scoping review. BMC Public Health 23, 1083 (2023).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: