Physical Activity and Food Environment Assessments: Implications for Practice
Eyler, A. A., Blanck, H. M., Gittelsohn, J., Karpyn, A., McKenzie, T. L., Partington, S., et al. (2015). Physical Activity and Food Environment Assessments: Implications for Practice. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 48(5), 639-645.
There is growing interest in the use of physical activity and nutrition environmental measures by both researchers and practitioners. Built environment assessment methods and tools range from simple to complex and encompass perceived, observed, and geographic data collection. Even though challenges in tool selection and use may exist for non-researchers, there are opportunities to incorporate these measures into practice. The aims of this paper are to (1) describe examples of built environment assessment methods and tools in the practice context; (2) present case studies that outline successful approaches for the use of built environment assessment tools and data among practitioners; and (3) make recommendations for both research and practice. As part of the Built Environment Assessment Training Think Tank meeting in July 2013, experts who work with community partners gathered to provide input on conceptualizing recommendations for collecting and analyzing built environment data in practice and research. The methods were summarized in terms of perceived environment measures, observational measures, and geographic measures for physical activity and food environment assessment. Challenges are outlined and case study examples of successful use of assessments in practice are described. Built environment assessment tools and measures are important outside the research setting. There is a need for improved collaboration between research and practice in forming partnerships for developing tools, collecting and analyzing data, and using the results to work toward positive environmental changes.