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Activity space-based measures of the food environment and their relationships to food purchasing behaviours for young urban adults in Canada

  • Michael J Widener (a1), Leia M Minaker (a2), Jessica L Reid (a3), Zachary Patterson (a4), Tara Kamal Ahmadi (a1) and David Hammond (a3)...

To examine the potential links between activity spaces, the food retail environment and food shopping behaviours for the population of young, urban adults.


Participants took part in the Canada Food Study, which collected information on demographics, food behaviour, diet and health, as well as an additional smartphone study that included a seven-day period of logging GPS (global positioning system) location and food purchases. Using a time-weighted, continuous representation of participant activity spaces generated from GPS trajectory data, the locations of food purchases and a geocoded food retail data set, negative binomial regression models were used to explore what types of food retailers participants were exposed to and where food purchases were made.


Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax, Canada.


Young adults aged 16–30 years (n 496). These participants were a subset of the larger Canada Food Study.


Demographics, household food shopper status and city of residence were significantly associated with different levels of exposure to various types of food retailers. Food shopping behaviours were also statistically significantly associated with demographics, the activity space-based food environment, self-reported health and city of residence.


The study confirms that food behaviours are related to activity space-based food environment measures, which provide a more comprehensive accounting of food retail exposure than home-based measures. In addition, exposure to food retail and food purchasing behaviours of an understudied population are described.

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Public Health Nutrition
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