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Am J Prev Med. 2009 Apr;36(4 Suppl):S93-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.01.010.

Measuring food environments: a historical perspective.

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  • 1Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Food and nutrition environments are believed to contribute to obesity and chronic diseases. There is a need for valid, reliable measures of nutrition environments. Familiarity with previous efforts to measure food and nutrition environments can help researchers and practitioners build on past accomplishments. This article describes sources of food-environment data, discusses how they have been used, and places the definition and measurement of food and nutrition environments in historical context. Review articles, agency websites, and peer-reviewed articles were the main sources of information. The review is organized around three main types of data sources identified as historic traditions: government, industry, and research. Types of data include archives, business monitoring records, surveys, observational assessments, and self-report surveys. Future development of clear, adaptable measures of food and nutrition environments will build on lessons of the past and will update and improve on past tools.

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