Measuring the Food Environment

State of the Science

This article examines challenges of measurement in the field of food environment research. This relatively young field has not yet fully addressed psychometric measurement issues, the interaction of social, individual, and environmental factors, and the large scale of data produced from food environment studies.

The author makes several recommendations to strengthen food environment research. The article calls for:

  • greater use of psychometric properties of the tools that measure food environments;
  • increased transparency regarding data-reduction decisions;
  • improved rigor of study design and analysis; and
  • more studies that examine individual decisions within the food environment.  

With these recommendations, researchers can provide a better understanding of how the food environment influences the choices individuals make about food.