Exploring the influence of local food environments on food behaviours: a systematic review of qualitative literature
journal contributionposted on 2017-10-01, 00:00 authored by E Pitt, D Gallegos, T Comans, C Cameron, Lukar ThorntonLukar Thornton
OBJECTIVE: Systematic reviews investigating associations between objective measures of the food environment and dietary behaviours or health outcomes have not established a consistent evidence base. The present paper aims to synthesise qualitative evidence regarding the influence of local food environments on food and purchasing behaviours. DESIGN: A systematic review in the form of a qualitative thematic synthesis. SETTING: Urban localities. SUBJECTS: Adults. RESULTS: Four analytic themes were identified from the review including community and consumer nutrition environments, other environmental factors and individual coping strategies for shopping and purchasing decisions. Availability, accessibility and affordability were consistently identified as key determinants of store choice and purchasing behaviours that often result in less healthy food choices within community nutrition environments. Food availability, quality and food store characteristics within consumer nutrition environments also greatly influenced in-store purchases. Individuals used a range of coping strategies in both the community and consumer nutrition environments to make optimal purchasing decisions, often within the context of financial constraints. CONCLUSIONS: Findings from the current review add depth and scope to quantitative literature and can guide ongoing theory, interventions and policy development in food environment research. There is a need to investigate contextual influences within food environments as well as individual and household socio-economic characteristics that contribute to the differing use of and views towards local food environments. Greater emphasis on how individual and environmental factors interact in the food environment field will be key to developing stronger understanding of how environments can support and promote healthier food choices.