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Collecting accurate secondary foodscape data. A reflection on the trials and tribulations

Lookup NU author(s): Thomas Burgoine


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In a special issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2009, 36(4S)), themed around the measurement of food and physical activity environments, Brownson, Hoehner, Day, Forsyth, and Sallis (2009, 118) made a plea for increased attention to be paid to the difficulties and complexities associated with the gathering of secondary data, and its subsequent refinement for use. Some of the peculiarities involved with the gathering and refining of secondary data, in particular data on the locations of food outlets in North East England are discussed in this paper.'Foodscape' data is often invoked in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) based studies that seek to explore the geography of food availability/access in relation to outcomes such as obesity. However, results from a GIS-based analysis are only as strong as the data utilised. This paper explores the time consuming negotiations, possible expense and probable stress of acquiring foodscape data from a robust source (Local Councils within the North East Government Office Region (GOR), UK), considerations that may unfortunately influence the potential scope of research projects. Furthermore, this paper extends its remit to discuss the clerical issues that plague the 'tidying up' of such secondary information.The paper will conclude by discussing how the time intensive sourcing and subsequent 'cleaning' of accurate secondary information is likely to be worthwhile, but will note that it is naïve to assume that (a) 'gatekeepers' will understand the necessity of your research and will thus cooperate accordingly, and (b) that the use of secondary data exonerates the researcher from 'getting their hands dirty'. The paper also concludes by highlighting the disconnect between the high quality research that is so frequently called for, and the lack of robust data sets that are available for use in these investigations. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Burgoine T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Appetite

Year: 2010

Volume: 55

Issue: 3

Pages: 522-527

Print publication date: 09/09/2010

ISSN (print): 0195-6663

ISSN (electronic): 1095-8304

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2010.08.020


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