Assessing Children\'s Restaurant Menus in a Health Disparate Region

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Virginia Tech


Obesity is an increasing problem in the United States with 17% of youth currently classified as obese and an even higher prevalence of obesity among disadvantaged populations. The food environment may be contributing to these high rates as there has been a well documented association among increased away from home food consumption and excess adiposity, as well as evidence to support that children's diets are composed of a large portion of restaurant foods. The main purpose of this study is to describe the quality of restaurant food offered to children in a rural health disparate region. Two trained research assistants conducted systematic audits of all food outlets offering a children's menu in the Dan River region using the Children's Menu Assessment (CMA) tool. A composite score for each outlet for was calculated from the 29 scored items on the CMA. The total sample consisted of 137 outlets with CMA scores ranging from -4 to 9 with a mean score of 1.6+2.7. Scores were lowest in the predominantly Black block groups (0.2+0.4) when compared to the predominately White block groups (1.4+1.6) and Mixed block groups (2.6+2.4) with significantly lower scores in the predominantly Black block group than the Mixed block groups (F=4.3; p<0.05). The results of this study reveal a lack of few healthy food options available for children in this region. These findings have the potential to contribute to public health efforts in developing public policy changes or environmental interventions for the children's food environment in the Dan River Region.



childhood obesity, built environment, health disparities, community-based participatory research