Measurement of the food and physical activity environments

April 2009

Given the high rates of obesity prevalence in the United States and around the world, research interest has grown regarding the effects of the community food and physical activity environments on individual diet and activity behavior. Robust measures of these environments are required in order to assess any effect. Measurement of food and physical environments is a relatively young field, although many “first generation” measures exist.

Researchers use a variety of methods to measure these environments, including survey instruments (self-reported and observed) and methodologies such as geographic information systems. To stimulate further progress in this vital research area, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other NIH Institutes and Centers, organized the “Measures of the Food and Built Environments Workshop” in November 2007. The April 2009 supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports on the workshop proceedings. Read more and access supplement articles here.

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