Research Portal

July 1, 2022

A Time-Based Objective Measure of Exposure to the Food Environment

Scully, Jason Y.; Moudon, Anne Vernez; Hurvitz, Philip M.; Aggarwal, Anju; Drewnowski, Adam. (2019). A Time-Based Objective Measure of Exposure to the Food Environment. International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health, 16(7).

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Exposure to food environments has mainly been limited to counting food outlets near participants' homes. This study considers food environment exposures in time and space using global positioning systems (GPS) records and fast food restaurants (FFRs) as the environment of interest. Data came from 412 participants (median participant age of 45) in the Seattle Obesity Study II who completed a survey, wore GPS receivers, and filled out travel logs for seven days. FFR locations were obtained from Public Health Seattle King County and geocoded. Exposure was conceptualized as contact between stressors (FFRs) and receptors (participants' mobility records from GPS data) using four proximities: 21 m, 100 m, 500 m, and 1/2 mile. Measures included count of proximal FFRs, time duration in proximity to 1 FFR, and time duration in proximity to FFRs weighted by FFR counts. Self-reported exposures (FFR visits) were excluded from these measures. Logistic regressions tested associations between one or more reported FFR visits and the three exposure measures at the four proximities. Time spent in proximity to an FFR was associated with significantly higher odds of FFR visits at all proximities. Weighted duration also showed positive associations with FFR visits at 21-m and 100-m proximities. FFR counts were not associated with FFR visits. Duration of exposure helps measure the relationship between the food environment, mobility patterns, and health behaviors. The stronger associations between exposure and outcome found at closer proximities (<100 m) need further research.


Global Positioning Systems; Physical-activity; Health Research; Land-use; Neighborhood; Gps; Obesity; Tracking; Validity; Mobility; Fast Food; Spatio-temporal Exposure; Mobility Patterns; Selective Mobility Bias