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Survey of the Nutrition Environment

Accessibility of healthy and unhealthy food is one of the most influential community-level factors affecting eating behaviors and chronic disease, yet the determinants and consequences of disparities remain poorly defined. Various factors may influence food purchasing and dietary intake, including lifestyle choice, income, travel mode and distance to the store, and within-store-level factors such as availability, quality, pricing, promotion, and proportion of healthy to unhealthy foods in neighborhood stores. 

The Community Nutrition Environment Evaluation Survey (C-NEEDS) instruments are designed to evaluate food stores, where people live.  These are especially powerful tools for public health and policy studies when used in combination with collected data on (1) individual shopping behaviors, (2) population densities and (3) the geographic distribution of nutrition-related chronic diseases. 

The UMass Center for Applied Nutrition and Health Geography Lab can assist with understanding consumer adaptations to adverse nutrition environments. We have demonstrated the ability to collect data on food purchasing behaviors and dietary intake of residents in these communities, and integration of personal-level data with C-NEEDS data will help answer some of these fundamental questions.