Measuring local food environments: an overview of available methods and measures

Health Place. 2011 Nov;17(6):1284-93. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2011.08.014. Epub 2011 Sep 3.


Reliable and valid measures of local food environments are needed to more fully understand the relationship between these environments and health and identify potential intervention points to improve access to, and the availability of, healthy foods. These measures also inform policy making, including the zoning of food outlets and food labelling/information requirements. A literature review was undertaken using health, behavioural and social sciences, nutrition and public health databases and grey literature, to determine available information on the measurement of local food environments. Included articles were those measuring aspects of food environments published from 2000 to 2010. A range of tools and methods are available to measure different components of food environments. Those focusing on community nutrition environments record the number, type and location of food outlets. The tools that focus on the consumer nutrition environment incorporate other factors, such as available food and beverage products, their price and quality, and any promotions or information to prompt consumers to make purchasing decisions. A summary and critique of these measures are provided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Fast Foods / classification
  • Fast Foods / supply & distribution*
  • Food Labeling
  • Food, Organic / classification
  • Food, Organic / supply & distribution*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Restaurants / classification*