Spatial-temporal modeling of neighborhood sociodemographic characteristics and food stores
The literature on food stores, neighborhood poverty, and race/ethnicity is mixed and lacks methods of accounting for complex spatial and temporal clustering of food resources. We used quarterly data on supermarket and convenience store locations from Nielsen TDLinx (Nielsen Holdings N.V., New York, New York) spanning 7 years (2006-2012) and census tract-based neighborhood sociodemographic data from the American Community Survey (2006-2010) to assess associations between neighborhood sociodemographic characteristics and food store distributions in the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) of 4 US cities (Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and San Francisco, California). We fitted a space-time Poisson regression model that accounted for the complex spatial-temporal correlation structure of store locations by introducing space-time random effects in an intrinsic conditionally autoregressive model within a Bayesian framework. After accounting for census tract-level area, population, their interaction, and spatial and temporal variability, census tract poverty was significantly and positively associated with increasing expected numbers of supermarkets among tracts in all 4 MSAs. A similar positive association was observed for convenience stores in Birmingham, Minneapolis, and San Francisco; in Chicago, a positive association was observed only for predominantly white and predominantly black tracts. Our findings suggest a positive association between greater numbers of food stores and higher neighborhood poverty, with implications for policy approaches related to food store access by neighborhood poverty.