An Analytical Framework for Integrating the Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Environmental Context and Individual Mobility in Exposure Assessment: A Study on the Relationship between Food Environment Exposures and Body Weight

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Sep 15;15(9):2022. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15092022.


In past studies, individual environmental exposures were largely measured in a static manner. In this study, we develop and implement an analytical framework that dynamically represents environmental context (the environmental context cube) and effectively integrates individual daily movement (individual space-time tunnel) for accurately deriving individual environmental exposures (the environmental context exposure index). The framework is applied to examine the relationship between food environment exposures and the overweight status of 46 participants using data collected with global positioning systems (GPS) in Columbus, Ohio, and binary logistic regression models. The results indicate that the proposed framework generates more reliable measurements of individual food environment exposures when compared to other widely used methods. Taking into account the complex spatial and temporal dynamics of individual environmental exposures, the proposed framework also helps to mitigate the uncertain geographic context problem (UGCoP). It can be used in other environmental health studies concerning environmental influences on a wide range of health behaviors and outcomes.

Keywords: GIS; GPS; environmental context cube; environmental context exposure index; environmental health; food environment; the uncertain geographic context problem (UGCoP).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Health / methods*
  • Female
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ohio
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Uncertainty
  • Young Adult