05 April 2012

The Supermarket May Influence One's Own Weight And Obesity

The body mass index (BMI) is a heuristic proxy for human body fat based on a person's weight and height. BMI does not actually measure the percentage of body fat. The BMI is defined as the individual's body mass divided by the square of his or her height.

BMI provided a simple numeric measure of how much a person is "thick" or "thin". This allows health professionals to discuss over- and under-weight problems more objectively with patients. BMI is meant to be used as a simple means of classifying sedentary (physically inactive) individuals, or rather, populations, with an average body composition rather than using it for medical diagnosis.

Your supermarket may affect your weight

Your supermarket may affect your weight, according to a report published in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The study, conducted in Paris from 2007 to 2008, found that participants who shop at discount supermarkets, in supermarkets in areas with poorly educated consumers, or in supermarkets far from their own neighborhood had higher body mass indices (BMI) and waste circumferences. As Basile Chaix indicates, "shopping at discount supermarkets was more strongly associated with higher body weight and abdominal fat among low educated than among high educated participants."

Video: Consumer Behavior in Supermarkets

Supermarket size and produce quality, on the other hand, were not correlated with either BMI or waist circumference.

Previous work of this type has largely focused on general neighborhood characteristics instead of specific personal behavior, but the current study, which included 7,131 participants, revealed that only 11.4% shopped for food primarily in their residential neighborhood. This result emphasizes the importance of evaluating people personal food environments.

The authors, led by Basile Chaix of INSERM in France, conclude that supermarkets may be a useful site for public health interventions to change food purchasing behavior.


Public Library of Science
French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm)
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