Comparing the accuracy of food outlet datasets in an urban environment

Submitted: 16 January 2017
Accepted: 18 March 2017
Published: 11 May 2017
Abstract Views: 1877
PDF: 821
HTML: 935
Publisher's note
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


Studies that investigate the relationship between the retail food environment and health outcomes often use geospatial datasets. Prior studies have identified challenges of using the most common data sources. Retail food environment datasets created through academic-government partnership present an alternative, but their validity (retail existence, type, location) has not been assessed yet. In our study, we used ground-truth data to compare the validity of two datasets, a 2015 commercial dataset (InfoUSA) and data collected from 2012 to 2014 through the Maryland Food Systems Mapping Project (MFSMP), an academic-government partnership, on the retail food environment in two low-income, inner city neighbourhoods in Baltimore City. We compared sensitivity and positive predictive value (PPV) of the commercial and academic-government partnership data to ground-truth data for two broad categories of unhealthy food retailers: small food retailers and quick-service restaurants. Ground-truth data was collected in 2015 and analysed in 2016. Compared to the ground-truth data, MFSMP and InfoUSA generally had similar sensitivity that was greater than 85%. MFSMP had higher PPV compared to InfoUSA for both small food retailers (MFSMP: 56.3% vs InfoUSA: 40.7%) and quick-service restaurants (MFSMP: 58.6% vs InfoUSA: 36.4%). We conclude that data from academic-government partnerships like MFSMP might be an attractive alternative option and improvement to relying only on commercial data. Other research institutes or cities might consider efforts to create and maintain such an environmental dataset. Even if these datasets cannot be updated on an annual basis, they are likely more accurate than commercial data.



PlumX Metrics


Download data is not yet available.


Supporting Agencies

National Institute Of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Michelle S. Wong, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
PhD Candidate

How to Cite

Wong, M. S., Peyton, J. M., Shields, T. M., Curriero, F. C., & Gudzune, K. A. (2017). Comparing the accuracy of food outlet datasets in an urban environment. Geospatial Health, 12(1).

List of Cited By :

Crossref logo