Tools for Assessing Retail Food Stores: What Can They Tell Us About Healthy Eating Initiatives?

Tools for Assessing Retail Food Stores: What Can They Tell Us About Healthy Eating Initiatives?

April 2016

In recent years, we've acquired many tools for measuring how healthful our retail food-store environments are. This review synthesized what is known and what is used, and identified the gaps in our science.

It involved articles published between 1990 and 2015 in peer-reviewed journals. The articles were carefully examined: the study designs, the findings, and the dimensions assessed by each measure.

The authors found 125 reports of studies that used observational measures. Their extensive review revealed some methodological improvements in the quality of these measures and in how they are used, though they continue to be used mostly in cross-sectional studies. The review identified an important gap: the tools should be utilized to assess change in food environments after interventions and, as a next important step, to test whether improved food environments are associated with improvements in people's food consumption and health. The article earned recognition for being among the most-downloaded and most-read content in the journal during the period in which it was published, attesting to the field's need for this kind of information.


Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH; Lauren Johnson, BSN; Amy L. Yaroch, PhD; Matthew Phillips, MPH; Guadalupe X. Ayala, PhD, MPH; Erica L. Davis, BA

Read the article in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
Read about the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey, a tool developed by Dr. Glanz and her team, which has been widely used.

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