While advocates argue that gentrification changes the neighborhood food environment critical to children’s diet and health, we have little evidence documenting such changes or the consequences for their health outcomes. Using rich longitudinal, individual-level data on nearly 115,000 New York City children, including egocentric measures of their food environment and BMI, we examine the link between neighborhood demographic change (“gentrification”), children’s access to restaurants and supermarkets, and their weight outcomes. We find that children in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods see increased access to fast food and wait-service restaurants and reduced access to corner stores and supermarkets compared to those in non-gentrifying areas. Boys and girls have higher BMI following gentrification, but only boys are more likely to be obese or overweight. We find public housing moderates the relationship between gentrification and weight, as children living in public housing are less likely to be obese or overweight.
Gentrification, Food Environment, Childhood Obesity, Public Housing
National Institutes of Health
R01HD070739, R01DK097347, R01DK108682.
Working Papers Series
The authors would like to thank the New York City Department of Education, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Jeremy Sze, Meryle Weinstein, Giuseppe Germinario, Courtney Abrams, Eric Zhou, and Brian Elbel for providing data and support.
Economic Policy | Economics | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration
Rick, Christopher; Han, Jeehee; Shanholtz, Spencer; and Schwartz, Amy Ellen, "The Link Between Gentrification, Children’s Egocentric Food Environment, and Obesity" (2022). Center for Policy Research. 378.
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