Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

A systematic review of associations between environmental factors, energy and fat intakes among adults: is there evidence for environments that encourage obesogenic dietary intakes?

Katrina Giskesa1a2 c1, Carlijn BM Kamphuisa2, Frank J van Lenthea2, Stef Kremersa3, Mariel Droomersa4 and Johannes Bruga2

a1 School of Public Health and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

a2 Department of Public Health, Erasmus Medical Center, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands

a3 Department of Health Education and Health Promotion, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands

a4 Centre for Prevention and Health Services Research, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands


Objective To review the literature examining associations between environmental factors, energy and fat intakes among adults, and to identify issues for future research.

Methods Literature searches of studies published between 1980 and 2004 were conducted in major databases (i.e. PubMed, Human Nutrition, Web of Science, PsychInfo, Sociofile). Additional articles were located by citation tracking.

Results Twenty-one articles met the inclusion criteria. No study provided a clear conceptualisation of how environmental factors may influence these dietary intakes. Availability, social, cultural and material aspects of the environment were relatively understudied compared with other factors such as seasonal/day of the week variation and work-related factors. Few studies examined the specific environmental factors implicated in the obesity epidemic, and there was little study replication. All studies were observational and cross-sectional.

Conclusions It is too premature to conclude whether or not environmental factors play a role in obesogenic and unhealthy dietary intakes. More studies need to examine associations with those environmental factors thought to contribute to obesogenic environments. There needs to be more development in theories that conceptualise the relationship between environmental factors and dietary intakes.

(Received March 22 2006)

(Accepted November 14 2006)

(Online publication February 22 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Email