Men's eating habits are associated with the availability of healthy food outlets around their home, but women depend on other aspects, found a new study.
Researcher Christelle M. Clary at the University of Montreal explained that they found that, for men only, intake of fruit and vegetables was positively associated with the proportion of healthy food outlets around home.
Researcher Yan Kestens suggested that this may be because women, who are in general more nutritionally knowledgeable, may engage in different food shopping strategies than men, and rely on other aspects of the food environment than the proportion of food stores locally available.
Clary added that overall, the data show that women from the sample declare eating on average 4.4 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, almost one more daily portion than men and the data also show that fruit and vegetable consumption is significantly higher in Montreal, at 4.14 portions per day, than in Toronto, at 3.86 portions per day.
Why men's fruit and vegetable consumption is related to the proportion of healthy outlets remains unclear. Among the potential explanations for these findings is that neighbourhoods where healthy (or unhealthy) food sources are bountiful may reflect social norms regarding food consumption in that area, encouraging individuals to conform to the social norm, Kestens explained.
The research team believes that more research is needed to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms linking food environments and diet.
Kestens concluded that overall, the statement of differential findings within Canadian population that they have uncovered warns against the search for a single universal effect of food environments on our health-related habits.