Using Geographic Information Systems to measure retail food environments: Discussion of methodological considerations and a proposed reporting checklist (Geo-FERN)

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Abstract

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are widely used to measure retail food environments. However the methods used are hetrogeneous, limiting collation and interpretation of evidence. This problem is amplified by unclear and incomplete reporting of methods. This discussion (i) identifies common dimensions of methodological diversity across GIS-based food environment research (data sources, data extraction methods, food outlet construct definitions, geocoding methods, and access metrics), (ii) reviews the impact of different methodological choices, and (iii) highlights areas where reporting is insufficient. On the basis of this discussion, the Geo-FERN reporting checklist is proposed to support methodological reporting and interpretation.

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