The proposed research will evaluate the efficacy of an intervention in urban corner stores.
Community-based, environmental manipulation of corner stores is an understudied area and
represents the next step in understanding and improving the nutritional intake of school
students to prevent obesity.
The HCSI is a community-based, multi-faceted, and broad-based intervention administered by
The Food Trust. The HCSI is designed to permeate multiple aspects (i.e., social,
educational, food availability) of the corner store environment. Moreover, it takes into
account the unique aspects of each corner store.
Theoretical Framework. The HCSI is grounded in social cognitive theory (SCT). By
incorporating the environment, personal factors (including cognitions) and behavior, SCT
provides a framework for designing, implementing, and evaluating behavioral change. It
supports traditional behavioral methods (positive reinforcement, specific behavioral
outcomes). Moreover, it underscores the critical role of the social environment (modeling,
social reinforcement, social norms - as well as reducing the antecedents for purchasing
unhealthy foods) in affecting change. Our initial work has assessed the feasibility of
implementing the HCSI and collecting data (see preliminary studies). We are poised to test
the efficacy of the HCSI in the proposed study.
Behavioral Goals. The HCSI intervention seeks to: 1) decrease the purchase of high calorie
snacks and beverages and to 2) increase the percentage of healthy snacks and beverages at
the store level. Decreasing the purchase of high-calorie foods in the corner stores and/or
decreasing sugar-sweetened soft drinks (assuming no change in physical activity) will shift
energy balance to favor the prevention of overweight and obesity. These dietary goals are
also consistent with the Institute of Medicine report on childhood obesity (Preventing
Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, 2004). While we will measure BMI in the proposed
study, our primary outcome of this initial randomized trial of efficacy is energy intake
assessed at the time of purchase.
Although the implementation of the intervention will vary depending on the characteristics
of the corner store, the major components of the program are summarized below:
Key informant interviews with corner store owners and teachers at local schools and
after-school programs to determine how best to work with these key groups Social marketing
campaign to reinforce messages about healthy snacking, Grouping healthy snacks and/or
displaying signage for easy identification of healthier items, Integrating healthy snacking
information into school and after-school programs to teach youngsters what comprises a
healthy snack Involving family members and the community in promoting healthy snacking
Working with snack and beverage manufacturers and distributors to increase the number of
healthy snacks available in corner stores.
- 4th, 5th and 6th grade students
- Schools who meet eligibility for 50% of students eligible to receive free or reduced
lunches at their school
- Corner stores surrounding these schools within a 4 block radius in either direction