Objectives. We examined availability and food options at restaurants in less affluent (target area) and more affluent (comparison area) areas of Los Angeles County to compare residents’ access to healthy meals prepared and purchased away from home. We also considered environmental prompts that encourage the purchase of various foods.

Methods. We designed an instrument to assess the availability, quality, and preparation of food in restaurants. We also assessed advertisements and pro- motions, cleanliness, and service for each restaurant. We assessed 659 restaurants: 348 in the target area and 311 in the comparison area.

Results. The nutritional resource environment in our target area makes it challenging for residents to eat healthy away from home. Poorer neighborhoods with a higher proportion of African American residents have fewer healthy options available, both in food selections and in food preparation; restaurants in these neighborhoods heavily promote unhealthy food options to residents.

Conclusions. Environment is important in understanding health status: support for the healthy lifestyle associated with lower risks for disease is difficult in poorer communities with a higher proportion of African American residents.

Coauthored with LaVonna Blair Lewis, PhD; Lori Miller Nascimento, MPH; Allison L. Diamant, MD, MPH; Joyce Jones Guinyard, DC; Antronette K. Yancey, MD, MPH & Gwendolyn Flynn

American Journal of Public Health 95.4 (2005): 668-73.