This article examines the measurement and study of food environments in historical context. Since food environments are believed to be linked to obesity and chronic disease, a more robust understanding of past food environment research may prove relevant for current research efforts.
The authors based their findings on review articles, government agency Web sites, and peer-reviewed articles.
The three sources of data most commonly used in past research on food environments were from government, industry and research.
Important government sources of information included the Department of Agriculture, the School Health Policies and Programs Study, and the School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study.
Industry data about sales, pricing, and availability of food was provided by the NPD Group, Nielsen Retail Measurement, Nielsen Media Research, and other media-tracking organizations.
Research on food environments has examined food in schools, at workplaces, and in the community.
A better understanding of the body of research around food environments will provide a strong base for current research in this area.