Systematic Review| Volume 48, ISSUE 4, P280-288.e1, April 2016

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Measures of Retail Food Store Environments and Sales: Review and Implications for Healthy Eating Initiatives



      This review describes available measures of retail food store environments, including data collection methods, characteristics of measures, the dimensions most commonly captured across methods, and their strengths and limitations.


      Articles were included if they were published between 1990 and 2015 in an English-language peer-reviewed journal and presented original research findings on the development and/or use of a measure or method to assess retail food store environments. Four sources were used, including literature databases, backward searching of identified articles, published reviews, and measurement registries.


      From 3,013 citations identified, 125 observational studies and 5 studies that used sales records were reviewed in-depth. Most studies were cross-sectional and based in the US. The most common tools used were the US Department of Agriculture's Thrifty Food Plan and the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Stores. The most common attribute captured was availability of healthful options, followed by price. Measurement quality indicators were minimal and focused mainly on assessments of reliability.

      Implications for Research and Practice

      Two widely used tools to measure retail food store environments are available and can be refined and adapted. Standardization of measurement across studies and reports of measurement quality (eg, reliability, validity) may better inform practice and policy changes.

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