Measuring Availability of Healthy Foods: Agreement Between Directly Measured and Self-reported Data

Moore, Latetia V.; Diez Roux, Ana V.; Franco, Manuel
May 2012
American Journal of Epidemiology;May2012, Vol. 175 Issue 10, p1037
Academic Journal
A major challenge in studies of the impact of the local food environment is the accuracy of measures of healthy food access. The authors assessed agreement between self-reported and directly measured availability of healthful choices within neighborhood food stores and examined the validity of reported availability using directly measured availability as a “gold standard.” Reported availability was measured via a phone survey of 1,170 adults in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2004. Directly measured availability was assessed in 226 food stores in 2006 using a modified Nutrition Environment Measures Survey in Stores (NEMS-S). Whites, college-educated individuals, and higher income households (≥$50,000) had significantly higher reported and directly measured availability than did blacks, those with less education, and lower income households. Persons in areas with above average directly measured availability reported above average availability 70%–80% of the time (sensitivity = 79.6% for all stores within 1 mile (1.6 km) of participants’ homes and 69.6% for the store with the highest availability within 1 mile). Those with below average directly measured availability reported low availability only half the time. With revisions to improve specificity, self-reported measures can be reasonable indicators of healthy food availability and provide feasible proxy measures of directly assessed availability.


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