Foods and Beverages Available at SNAP-Authorized Drugstores in Sections of North Carolina.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To assess healthy food availability in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-authorized drugstores by store chain and neighborhood income level in 3 regions of North Carolina.

DESIGN

Cross-sectional, descriptive study.

SETTING

Twenty-five counties in North Carolina.

PARTICIPANTS

A total of 108 drugstores (36 CVS Health, 36 Rite Aid, and 36 Walgreens).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S)

Fifty foods and beverages offered at drugstores, categorized as healthier and less healthy.

ANALYSIS

Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to test differences in the availability of foods and beverages by chain and neighborhood income.

RESULTS

Of the 50 foods/beverages observed, 11 were available at all drugstores. Three of the 36 (8%) healthier items were available at all stores (100% fruit juice, water, and high-fiber cereal) whereas 8 of the 14 less healthy items (57%) were available at all stores (chips, sports drinks, energy drinks, regular soda, diet soda, sugar-sweetened beverages, beer, and wine). Only 3% of drugstores offered fresh vegetables and 4% offered fresh fruits. Less than 20% offered frozen chicken or beef. For 36 healthier foods, 11 differed by chain (28%); for less healthy foods 2 of 14 differed by chain (7%). Foods and beverages offered did not vary by neighborhood income.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

Although drugstores offer some healthier items, few offer fresh produce. As the drugstore industry changes, it is important for the nutrition community to study the impact of these changes on food purchasing behavior and ultimately health.

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