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Activity Spaces and Household Exclusion from Food Environments

Floating Market Bangkok Tour, Thailand

Image credit: Stefano Alemani on Unsplash


External food environments (EFEs) characterised by the diversity of outlets, products, their quality, convenience and prices, have been recognised as important determinants of the dietary choices and nutritional outcomes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Using the concept of “activity spaces,” this project proposes to develop a metric – which we call the index of household exclusion from EFE – to assess how households interact with their EFE, and the extent to which they participate in or are excluded from their EFE.

An innovative feature of this project will be the robust mapping of the activity spaces of individuals using wearable accelerometers and GPS devices and linking these activity spaces to food acquisition behaviour within their EFE. The community level EFE will also be mapped by identifying all elements of the EFE that are relevant to the respondent households. The activity spaces that households occupy in relation to the EFE may be constrained by their socio-demographic characteristics and endowments and by food preferences and social and cultural norms. The mapping of activity spaces will also capture the variation in activity spaces over seasons and by gender. The index of household exclusion from EFE, derived from the analysis of activity spaces, will be linked to nutritional outcomes by collection of dietary intake data from the same respondents whose activity spaces are mapped.

The project will be undertaken in Thailand and Lao PDR in four selected rural and urban communities in each country. The project will be implemented in collaboration with the University of Warwick, UK, with Chiang Mai University in Thailand and the Institute for Research on Development in Lao PDR bringing together interdisciplinary expertise in food economics and nutrition, in-depth understanding of the social and cultural context of the local communities and extensive experience in survey design and implementation in the context of developing countries.

Project team

Dr Marco J Haenssgen

Dr Marco J Haenssgen
(GSD, University of Warwick)

Dr C.S.Srinivasan
(University of Reading, Principal Investigator)

Dr Giacomo Zanello
(University of Reading)

Dr Prasit Lepreecha
(Chiang Mai University)

Dr Eric Deharo
(Institut de Recherche pour le Développement Laos-Cambodia)