Perceptions of the local food environment and fruit and vegetable intake in the Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes research Network (ECHORN) Cohort study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Preventive Medicine Reports






Caribbean; ECHORN Cohort; Food environment perceptions; Fruit and vegetable consumption


Introduction: Studies conducted in the US and other high-income countries show that the local food environment influences dietary intakes that are protective for cardiovascular health. However, few studies have examined this relationship in the Caribbean. This study aimed to determine whether perceptions of the local food environment were associated with fruit and vegetable (FV) intake in the Eastern Caribbean, where daily FV intake remains below recommended levels. Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network Cohort Study (ECS) baseline data (2013–2016) from Barbados, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and US Virgin Islands was conducted in 2020. The National Cancer Institute Dietary Screener Questionnaire was adapted to measure daily servings of FV. Existing scales were used to assess participant perceptions of the food environment (availability, affordability, and quality). Chi-square tests and Poisson regression were used for analyses. Results: Participants reported eating one mean daily serving of FV. Mean daily intake was higher among those who perceived FV as usually/always affordable, available, and high quality. Multivariate results showed statistically significant associations between FV and affordability. Persons who perceived FV as affordable had 0.10 more daily servings of FV compared to those who reported FV as not always affordable (p = 0.02). Food insecurity modified the association between affordability and FV intake. Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of affordability in consumption of FV in the Eastern Caribbean, and how this relationship may be modified by food insecurity.