CarnegieXchange - the food environment and obesity
Emma Wilkins discusses the food environment and obesity and examines the impact of different methodological choices. Intuitively, the idea that the food environment; defined as the availability and accessibility of food retailing within local environments, is a determinant of obesity is appealing.
Food environments that promote consumption of high-calorie foods and/or provide inadequate access to healthy, low-calorie foods could theoretically lead to a surplus of energy intake and resultant weight gain. Indeed, local authorities are increasingly creating policies and designing interventions that seek to regulate or modify the food environment to favour healthier weights. However, in spite of considerable research investigating links between the food environment and obesity, the evidence supporting such a link is mixed and largely null. One factor that potentially contributes to this variability in findings is the diversity of methods employed to measure the food environment. This seminar will present findings from a study investigating the impacts of different methodological choices used in the literature using a large dataset from the Yorkshire Health Study and will discuss the implications of these findings for future research and policy.