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.