Using remote sensing to define environmental characteristics related to physical activity and dietary behaviours: a systematic review (the SPOTLIGHT project)

Health Place. 2014 Jan;25:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2013.09.017. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


We performed a systematic literature review on the use of free geospatial services as potential tools to assess built environmental characteristics related to dietary behaviour and physical activity. We included 13 studies, all published since 2010 and conducted in urban contexts, with Google Earth and Google Street View as the two main free geospatial services used. The agreement between virtual and field audit was higher for items related to objectively verifiable measures (e.g. presence of infrastructure and equipment) and lower for subjectively assessed items (e.g. aesthetics, street atmosphere, etc.). Free geospatial services appear as promising alternatives to field audit for assessment of objective dimensions of the built environment.

Keywords: Dietary behavior; Environment; Free geospatial services; Physical activity; Remote sensing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Environment Design*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Remote Sensing Technology
  • Residence Characteristics