"We Need Better Food Choices"

Researchers Adapt and Use a Simple Tool to Measure Nutrition Environments to Help Communities Make the Case

A simple, yet scientifically rigorous, measure of community food environments (the places that people buy and eat food) was developed and validated in 2004-2005 by a team of researchers led by Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, then at Emory University and now at the University of Pennsylvania.

But Glanz and her team didn’t stop there. They trained hundreds of people to use the Nutrition Environments Measures Survey (NEMS), set up a NEMS website where the survey forms can be accessed, and also decided to assist people who wanted to adapt the tool to conduct studies of other nutrition environments.

This report describes the spread of the NEMS in ways Glanz and her team could not have imagined when they started.

“The initial grant from RWJF was critical to enabling our research team to do the careful work needed to develop the NEMS assessments,” Glanz says. “NEMS is a good example of developing a tool where there really was a need, and then the RWJF funding gave us the ability to get it out there. That combination has helped to keep it going and keep it evolving and useful for people.”