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Baltimore Healthy Stores (BHS)

Overview

Baltimore Healthy Stores (BHS), a research-tested intervention, focuses on changing the local food environment by directly influencing the availability of healthier food options in stores and increasing awareness and skills of patrons to select and prepare healthier foods through point-of-purchase promotions.  Exposure to this intervention has the potential to increase patrons’ knowledge and self-efficacy and to improve their behavioral intentions to select, prepare, and consume healthier foods.  A complementary component is directed at small store owners, and provides guidance on how best to select healthy and affordable food options for their stores.

BHS has five phases, each phase lasting about two months. The phases have different themes: healthy breakfast, cooking at home, healthy snacks, carry-out foods (e.g., prepared foods offered at store delis), and healthy beverages. Each phase includes theme-specific behavioral objectives, promoted foods, and health communication (point-of-purchase marketing and nutrition education) strategies.

Intended population:  Residents and store owners in underserved, low-income communities where prepared food venues (e.g., carryout/fast food restaurants) and corner/convenience stores are primary food sources due to limited access to supermarkets

Setting: Corner stores, small markets and grocery stores in low-income, urban communities

Length of time in the field:  The Baltimore Healthy Stores research study was conducted in 2005-2006.  Three new studies are under way as the Johns Hopkins Center for Human Nutrition research team is extending the reach of the original BHS intervention by developing additional modules to reach youth through recreation centers, to reach older adults through churches, and to expand materials to modify prepared food sources (e.g., carryouts).