Much progress has been made in the past 5 to 10 years in measuring and understanding the impact of the food and physical activity environments on behavioral outcomes. Nevertheless, this research is in its infancy. A work group was convened to identify current evidence gaps and barriers in food and physical activity environments and policy research measures, and develop recommendations to guide future directions for measurement and methodologic research efforts. A nominal group process was used to determine six priority areas for food and physical activity environments and policy measures to move the field forward by 2015, including: (1) identify relevant factors in the food and physical activity environments to measure, including those most amenable to change; (2) improve understanding of mechanisms for relationships between the environment and physical activity, diet, and obesity; (3) develop simplified measures that are sensitive to change, valid for different population groups and settings, and responsive to changing trends; (4) evaluate natural experiments to improve understanding of food and physical activity environments and their impact on behaviors and weight; (5) establish surveillance systems to predict and track change over time; and (6) develop standards for adopting effective health-promoting changes to the food and physical activity environments. The recommendations emanating from the work group highlight actions required to advance policy-relevant research related to food and physical activity environments.
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