Khan S, Calloway SA, Maida T, Rakel DP. Dietary and built environment assessment in a Latino community. Am J Health Educ. 2012;43(2):74-82. Submitted May 19, 2011. Accepted August 18, 2011. DOI: 10.1080/19325037.2012.10599222
Background: Assessment of basic dietary intake and community nutrition environment is lacking and needed to improve health outcomes for the growing U.S. Latino community. Purpose: The dietary intake and community nutrition environment of a Latino population in the Midwest was evaluated. Methods: In a community clinic, Block Food Frequency Screeners in Spanish were administered to measure daily fruit, vegetable and fat intake. The community nutrition environment, specifically store outlets, was evaluated on the basis of availability, price and quality of foods using Nutrition Environment Measurement Surveys-Stores (NEM S-S). Results: The adult Latino community’s fruit, vegetable, and fat intake is considered “good,” except adult males exhibited a “fair” consumption of fat. NEMS-S revealed a good availability and quality of “healthy” food options in the stores, but reported higher prices, on average, for “healthy” options. Discussion: Dietary intake may reflect a community in transition from a predominantly Mexican to a standard American diet. Additional built environment assessment tools should be administered, and those that capture more of the diverse eating practices should be considered for future research, such as the NEMS-Texas survey which was developed for a predominantly Latino population in Texas. Translation to Health Education Practice: The study data are being used and adopted by other social service organizations and to inform health policy makers in Milwaukee. Future directives for research should include dietary assessments that include food items from diverse culinary traditions that more accurately capture dietary intake in United States urban settings. The newer Texas NEMS that includes all fruits and vegetables, may be better suited for urban populations nationally that may have access to fruits and vegetables from around the globe.