Measurement and Modeling of Healthy Food and Activity Landscapes 

The primary aims of this research project were to use and adopt novel methods to measure and model access to healthy foods and activity environments in an urban area and to engage community members in developing a demonstration project of policy and environmental change to increase access to healthy foods and improved activity environments.

Secondary aims included:

  1. Using a mixed-methods approach to assess residents' shopping and physical activity patterns and reported barriers and facilitators to healthy food access and physical activity
  2. Creating a spatial model of healthy food availability using a valid and reliable observational measure of food environments
  3. Applying cartographic modeling (raster GIS analysis) in novel ways to create healthy food and physical activity "landscapes"
  4. Working with community members to design and evaluate a pilot intervention to address barriers to healthy food access and physical activity in two neighborhoods in urban Philadelphia

We also developed and conducted an advanced training institute to prepare young investigators and early-career practitioners to use both observational and self-report measures of nutrition and activity environments and related behavioral assessments. The Advanced Built Environment Assessment Training (BEAT-Plus) Institute added online instruction and train-the-trainer techniques to previously developed classroom training, computer labs, field work, and participatory methods.


Karpyn A, Tappe K, Hillier A, Cannuscio C, Koprak J, Glanz K. Where urban residents shop for produce. In press,Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 2015.

Hillier A, Smith T, Cannuscio CC, Karpyn A, Glanz K. A discrete-choice approach to modeling food store access. In Press, Environment and Planning B, 2015.

Lucan SC, Hillier A, Schechter CB, Glanz K. Objective and self-reported factors associated with food environment perceptions and fruit-and-vegetable consumption: A multilevel analysis. Preventing Chronic Disease, 2014; 11: 130324.

Hillier A, Tappe K, Cannuscio C, Karpyn A, Glanz K. In an urban neighborhood, who is physically active and where?Women and Health, 54: 194-211, 2014.

Cannuscio C, Hillier A, Karpyn A, Glanz K.  The social dynamics of healthy food shopping and store choice in an urban environment.  Social Science and Medicine, 122: 13-20, 2014.

Cannuscio CC, Tappe K, Hillier A, Buttenheim A, Karpyn A, Glanz K. An assessment of the urban food environment and residents’ shopping behaviors in that environment. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 45(5): 606-614, 2013.

Hillier A, Cannuscio C, Griffin L, Thomas N, Glanz K. The value of conducting door-to-door surveys. In Press,International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 2013.

Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture


Established in 2009, the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Behavior Research is an institution-wide collaborative effort, dedicated to conducting health behavior research, fostering advances in measurement of health behaviors, advancing the use of health behavior theory, and promoting collaboration among faculty, fellows and students. 




Center for Heath Behavior Research
University of Pennsylvania
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Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021

Office Number: 215-573-4529
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