Cartographic Modeling Lab Papers

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



Hirsch, J. A., & Hillier, A. (2013). Exploring the role of the food environment on food shopping patterns in Philadelphia, PA, USA: A semiquantitative comparison of two matched neighborhood groups. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10(1), 295-313. doi: 10.3390/ijerph10010295


Increasing research has focused on the built food environment and nutrition-related outcomes, yet what constitutes a food environment and how this environment influences individual behavior still remain unclear. This study assesses whether travel mode and distance to food shopping venues differ among individuals in varying food environments and whether individual- and household-level factors are associated with food shopping patterns. Fifty neighbors who share a traditionally defined food environment (25 in an unfavorable environment and 25 in a favorable environment) were surveyed using a mix of close- and open-ended survey questions. Food shopping patterns were mapped using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Stores visited were beyond the 0.5-mile (805 meters) radius traditionally used to represent the extent of an individual’s food environment in an urban area. We found no significant difference in shopping frequency or motivating factor behind store choice between the groups. No differences existed between the two groups for big food shopping trips. For small trips, individuals in the favorable food environment traveled shorter distances and were more likely to walk than drive. Socioeconomic status, including car ownership, education, and income influenced distance traveled. These findings highlight the complexities involved in the study and measurement of food environments.


food environment, supermarket, shopping behavior, metholdology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS)



Date Posted: 11 July 2013

This document has been peer reviewed.