Social Norms Influencing the Local Food Environment as Perceived by Residents and Food Traders: The Heart Healthy Hoods Project

María Sandín Vázquez, Jesús Rivera, Paloma Conde, Marta Gutiérrez, Julia Díez, Joel Gittelsohn, Manuel Franco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exploring subjective elements of the food environment remains key to understand why and how residents purchase food. Our aim was to explore and describe the social norms relating to the local food environment and food purchasing behaviors, as perceived by residents and food traders in Madrid, Spain. This qualitative study took place in a middle socioeconomic status neighborhood of Madrid between January 2015 and May 2016. We conducted 35 semi-structured interviews. We used stratified purposive sampling to recruit residents, neighborhood workers (N = 20) and food traders (N = 15) representing different levels of involvement with food purchasing behaviors. We analyzed these data using an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach. Participants highlighted social aspects of the food environment in relation to food purchasing behaviors. First, interpersonal and relational food environment elements were emphasized, including trust and tradition. Participants also identified generational demographic trends in relation to changes in the way residents purchased food: the new pace of life and the lack of time to buy fresh food and to cook at home. All these elements were influenced by the economic crisis. Food environment interventions aiming to improve food purchasing behaviors and residents' diets should consider intermediate social aspects of the food environment like trust and tradition and the fast pace of life of younger generations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 11 2019


  • food choice
  • food environment
  • neighborhoods
  • qualitative methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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