This special May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is dedicated to studies that use geographic information system (GIS) tools to determine how health (particularly diet, physical activity, and weight) is affected by the places where people live and spend time.
A pair of studies (Frank et al. and Saelens et al.) present a way of determining which neighborhoods are likelier to cause obesity, by quantifying neighborhood walkability and “playability,” as well as the neighborhood food environment. Other highlights include a study (Rainham et al.) showed that urban and suburban youth got the largest proportion of their physical activity while actively commuting, whereas rural students got most of their activity at school. A study from the UK (Fraser et al.) showed that teens in rural areas ate fast food more often when fast-food outlets were easily accessible–whereas the opposite was true in urban areas.
Funding of this special issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). However, all related research studies included here were not funded directly by RWJF, and have been included to provide additional research on this topic.