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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 161574, 8 pages
Research Article

A Direct Assessment of “Obesogenic” Built Environments: Challenges and Recommendations

1Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, 2600-515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6B 5K3
2Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation, General Site, McMaster Clinic, 237 Barton Street E., Hamilton, ON, Canada L8L 2X2
3Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, HSC-3U4, 1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8N 3Z5
4Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney and The George Institute for Global Health, Level 10 King George V Building, Missenden Road, Camperdown, Sydney NSW 2050, Australia
5Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Quebec and Université Laval, 2725 Chemin Sainte-Foy, Quebec City, QC, Canada G1V 4G5

Received 4 June 2011; Revised 1 August 2011; Accepted 30 August 2011

Academic Editor: David Strogatz

Copyright © 2011 Danijela Gasevic et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper outlines the challenges faced during direct built environment (BE) assessments of 42 Canadian communities of various income and urbanization levels. In addition, we recommend options for overcoming such challenges during BE community assessments. Direct BE assessments were performed utilizing two distinct audit methods: (1) modified version of Irvine-Minnesota Inventory in which a paper version of an audit tool was used to assess BE features and (2) a Physical Activity and Nutrition Features audit tool, where the presence and positions of all environmental features of interest were recorded using a Global-Positioning-System (GPS) unit. This paper responds to the call for the need of creators and users of environmental audit tools to share experiences regarding the usability of tools for BE assessments. The outlined BE assessment challenges plus recommendations for overcoming them can help improve and refine the existing audit tools and aid researchers in future assessments of the BE.