Shifting from Individual to Community Measures: The Impact of the Healthy Corner Stores Initiative on Obesity Rates in Washington, DC
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In recent years local health departments have worked to address the impacts of food insecurity through environment-based food intervention programs. Program evaluations on intervention effectiveness typically focus on the individual-level impacts of these programs through measurements like store inventory and consumer purchasing patterns. This research expands the scope of these evaluations by examining the impacts of Washington, DC's Healthy Corner Stores Initiative on ward-level obesity rates. A difference-in-differences estimator was used to capture changes in average adult obesity rates by ward before and after the program's implementation. Although customer survey data suggests that consumers are purchasing fresh produce through participating stores, this research shows that, on the community level, this program has not had a measurable impact on average adult obesity rates. This finding is at odds with past findings of environment-based food intervention programs, suggesting that evaluating these programs on the community level instead of the individual level can lead to contradictory conclusions.