Using geospatial technologies to explore activity-based retail food environments

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63 Scopus citations


Several studies have demonstrated relationships between neighborhood-level retail food environments and obesity, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Most, however, have been limited by the use of residential neighborhoods to define food environments. This study recruited 121 participants to supply three days of Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking data to explore daily activity spaces and food environments. Participants also answered two surveys regarding personal characteristics, and diet and food purchasing. Several food environment measures were calculated for food locations within a half-mile of their GPS tracks. Non-parametric statistics examined (1) differences between activity- and neighborhood-based food environments, (2) associations between personal characteristics and activity-based food environments, and (3) associations between diet, purchasing, and activity-based food environments. Activity- and neighborhood-based food environments were significantly different. Several associations were observed among activity-based food environment measures and personal characteristics. Dietary intake, food purchasing, and obesity were associated with some activity-based food environment measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-295
Number of pages9
JournalSpatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF #1031430 ). During data collection, this study relied heavily on the able assistance of Michael Sommar and Sarah Watson. Also, this research would certainly not have been possible without the participation of many residents in the study area. The value of their contribution cannot be understated.


  • Activity space
  • Food environment
  • GIS
  • GPS
  • Health
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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