Measuring local food environments: an overview of available methods and measures
Reliableandvalidmeasuresoflocalfoodenvironmentsareneededtomorefullyunderstandthe relationship between these environments and health and identify potential intervention points to improve access to, and the availability of, healthy foods. These measures also inform policy making,i ncluding the zoning of food outlets and food labelling/information requirements. A literature review was undertaken using health, behavioural and social sciences, nutrition and public health databases and grey literature, to determine available information on the measurement of local food environments. Included articles were those measuring aspects of food environments published from 2000 to 2010. A range of tools and methods are available to measure different components of food environments. Those focusing on community nutrition environments record the number, type and location of food outlets. The tools that focus on the consumer nutrition environment incorporate other factors, such as available food and beverage products,their price and quality, and any promotions or information to prompt consumers to make purchasing decisions. A summary and critique of these measures are provided.