Community Investments and Diet-Related Outcomes


Investments in historically oppressed neighborhoods through food retail, housing, and commercial development are hypothesized to improve residents’ health, nutrition, and perceptions of their neighborhood as a place to live. Although place-based development (e.g., housing, retail, business assistance) is happening in many communities, there is little evidence of the long-term correlates of multiple investments such as health and nutrition among residents.


A quasi-experimental longitudinal study was conducted using a cohort of randomly sampled households in two low-income, predominantly African American neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, PA, with surveys assessing residents’ food insecurity, perception of their neighborhood as a place to live, perception of access to healthy foods, and dietary outcomes in 2011 and seven years later (2018), with an interim assessment in 2014. Analyses conducted in 2022 compared changes among residents of one neighborhood which had 2.6 times the investments over a 7-year period with changes among residents of a socio-demographically similar neighborhood that received fewer investments.


It was found that residents in the neighborhood receiving substantial investments demonstrated statistically significant improvements in neighborhood satisfaction (12.6% improvement compared with a 2.2% decrease) and perceived access to healthy food (52% improvement compared with 18.2% improvement), and marginally significant change in food security (14% compared with 4.8% improvement) compared with residents in the neighborhood receiving fewer investments.


Multiple place-based investments in neighborhoods can potentially induce positive change for residents in health and nutrition outcomes.

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