Measuring the Food Environment Using Geographic Information Systems: A Methodological Review

UMR INSERM U 557/INRA U 1125/CNAM, University Paris 13, CRNH IdF, Bobigny, France.
Public Health Nutrition (Impact Factor: 2.68). 11/2010; 13(11):1773-85. DOI: 10.1017/S1368980010000753
Source: PubMed


Through a literature review, we investigated the geographic information systems (GIS) methods used to define the food environment and the types of spatial measurements they generate.
Review study.
Searches were conducted in health science databases, including Medline/Pubmed, PsycINFO, Francis and GeoBase. We included studies using GIS-based measures of the food environment published up to 1 June 2008.
Twenty-nine papers were included. Two different spatial approaches were identified. The density approach quantifies the availability of food outlets using the buffer method, kernel density estimation or spatial clustering. The proximity approach assesses the distance to food outlets by measuring distances or travel times. GIS network analysis tools enable the modelling of travel time between referent addresses (home) and food outlets for a given transportation network and mode, and the assumption of travel routing behaviours. Numerous studies combined both approaches to compare food outlet spatial accessibility between different types of neighbourhoods or to investigate relationships between characteristics of the food environment and individual food behaviour.
GIS methods provide new approaches for assessing the food environment by modelling spatial accessibility to food outlets. On the basis of the available literature, it appears that only some GIS methods have been used, while other GIS methods combining availability and proximity, such as spatial interaction models, have not yet been applied to this field. Future research would also benefit from a combination of GIS methods with survey approaches to describe both spatial and social food outlet accessibility as important determinants of individual food behaviours.

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Available from: Christiane Weber, Aug 11, 2015
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    • "The bulk of research has described the geographic distribution of various types of food stores as well as the selection, quality, and price of different kinds of food found within them in a single large urban area. 3 There is also research that analyzes customers' and food business proprietors' perceptions of the food environment (Charreire et al. 2010; Reisig and Hobbiss 2000; Zenk et al. 2011). However, most research on healthy food availability focuses on large cities with populations of more than several hundred thousand. "
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    ABSTRACT: This article examines the relationships between neighborhood racial and income composition and healthy food availability. We explore the extent to which physical and social isolation affects healthy food availability for groups marginalized by race and class in a context largely missing from the literature. We use census tract data and five-year estimates from the American Community Survey to produce maps illustrating the patterns of race and income composition in Topeka, Kansas. Included in these maps are data points illustrating the distribution of stores offering healthy foods. We find that, as in the large metro areas analyzed thus far, the distribution of healthy food stores in Topeka is similarly patterned. Blacker (and poorer) neighborhoods tend to have the lowest levels of healthy food availability. We conclude with a discussion of the relevance of this work to the knowledge base regarding food environments and health in the United States.
    Rural Sociology 03/2015; DOI:10.1111/ruso.12063 · 1.89 Impact Factor
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    • "2) Recently, Burgoine et al. [57] found food environment measures of density and proximity to be highly correlated, and concluded that the heterogeneity found in GIS-based exposure metrics within the published literature may not be as problematic as previously argued [58]. Therefore, it might be particularly important to focus future research on combining GIS-based objective measurement of the community food environment with self-report measures of the community food environment, as well as measures of the consumer food environment. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background While there is a growing body of research on food environments for children, there has not been a published comprehensive review to date evaluating food environments outside the home and school and their relationship with diet in children. The purpose of this paper is to review evidence on the influence of the community and consumer nutrition environments on the diet of children under the age of 18 years. Methods Our search strategy included a combination of both subject heading searching as well as natural language, free-text searching. We searched nine databases (MEDLINE, Web of Science, CINAHL, Embase, Scopus, ProQuest Public Health, PsycINFO, Sociological Abstracts, and GEOBASE) for papers published between 1995 and July 2013. Study designs were included if they were empirically-based, published scholarly research articles, were focused on children as the population of interest, fit within the previously mentioned date range, included at least one diet outcome, and exposures within the community nutrition environment (e.g., location and accessibility of food outlets), and consumer nutrition environment (e.g., price, promotion, and placement of food choices). Results After applying exclusion and inclusion criteria, a total of 26 articles were included in our review. The vast majority of the studies were cross-sectional in design, except for two articles reporting on longitudinal studies. The food environment exposure(s) included aspects of the community nutrition environments, except for three that focused on the consumer nutrition environment. The community nutrition environment characterization most often used Geographic Information Systems to geolocate participants’ homes (and/or schools) and then one or more types of food outlets in relation to these. The children included were all of school age. Twenty-two out of 26 studies showed at least one positive association between the food environment exposure and diet outcome. Four studies reported only null associations. Conclusions This review found moderate evidence of the relationship between the community and consumer nutrition environments and dietary intake in children up to 18 years of age. There is wide variation in measures used to characterize both the community and consumer nutrition environments and diet, and future research should work to decrease this heterogeneity.
    BMC Public Health 05/2014; 14(1):522. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-14-522 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    • "This has likely resulted in a misestimation of an individual's daily exposure to food stores. The vast majority of existing studies exploring links between food access and eating behaviours have focused solely on the number and type of food stores (the community nutrition environment) (Glanz et al., 2005) in neighbourhoods around people's homes (the residential environment) (Charreire et al., 2010; Caspi et al., 2012; Glanz et al., 2005). However, this is only one locale in which people spend time and this approach ignores other environments in which people live their lives. "
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    ABSTRACT: There remains a lack of consistent evidence linking food environments with eating behaviours. Studies to date have largely ignored the way different individuals interact with their local food environment and have primarily focussed on exposures within the residential neighbourhood without consideration of exposures around the workplace, for example. In this study we firstly examine whether associations between the residential food environment and eating behaviours differ by employment status and, secondly, whether food environments near employed women's workplaces are more strongly associated with dietary behaviours than food environments near home. Employment status did not modify the associations between residential food environments and eating behaviours, however results showed that having access to healthy foods near the workplace was associated with healthier food consumption. Policies focused on supportive environments should consider commercial areas as well as residential neighbourhoods.
    Health & Place 09/2013; 24C:80-89. DOI:10.1016/j.healthplace.2013.08.006 · 2.81 Impact Factor
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