Jaspreet KG.1, Ang LW.1, Sangeetha S.2, Harvinder Kaur GS.2
1Bachelor of Science (Hons) Nutrition and Dietetics, International Medical University (IMU), Kuala Lumpur
2Division of Nutrition and Dietetics, International Medical University (IMU), Kuala Lumpur
To compare the availability, pricing and quality of healthier food items sold in large retail stores (LR), local chained mini markets (MM) and convenience stores (CS) within 1 km radius of low to middle socioeconomic status (SES) neighbourhoods i.e. Hulu Langat (HL) and Bangsar Pudu (BP), respectively.
Two LR, two MM and two CS within 1-km stretch of street with visibly high food establishment density were identified in the selected neighbourhoods. The availability, pricing and quality of healthier food items were compared between the three store types using the International Medical University Nutrition Environment Survey for Store (IMUNES-Store) questionnaire. Two points were allocated for the availability of healthier options, and an extra point for more varieties, while one point was deducted for a higher priced healthier option. Higher scores for availability, pricing and quality indicates a greater availability, lower pricing and better quality of healthier food options.
Results & Discussion
In the low SES neighbourhood (HL), LR showed significantly higher availability of healthier foods than MM and CS (LR:56.8¬±0.0% vs MM:35.8¬±10.5% vs CS:20.4¬±6.2%,p<0.032). Food quality (LR:94.5¬±7.8% vs MM:66.7¬±0.0% vs CS:0.0¬±0.0%,p=0.212) and pricing (LR&CS:-0.5¬±0.4 vs MM:-1.2¬±0.0,p=0.171) were similar between the stores. In the middle SES neighbourhood (BP), there was no significant difference in availability (LR:51.9¬±31.5% vs MM:43.8¬±9.6% vs CS:23.5¬±13.9%,p=0.463) and quality of healthier foods (LR&MM:100.0¬±0.0% vs CS:0.0¬±0.0%,p=1.000) between the stores. MM and CS sold significantly cheaper items than LR (LR:-0.5¬±0.2 vs MM&CS:0.1¬±0.1,p=0.039) in BP. Fresh produce was absent in CS in both districts. Cheaper price was found to increase healthier food purchases.
In both neighbourhoods, LR had the highest healthier foods availability and CS sold cheaper healthier options. In BP, LR and MM had excellent fresh produce quality, while in HL, LR had better quality fresh produce. Healthier options were more expensive than regular options in both districts.