The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched a new online mapping tool called Your Food Environment Atlas.
The Atlas is designed for food policy makers, researchers and consumers.
According to the USDA, food environmental factors interact to influence food choices and diet quality.
Those factors include access and proximity to grocery stores, food insecurity, availability of food stores and restaurants, food prices, food taxes, food assistance, local foods, food eaten at home, and socioeconomic characteristics.
Research is beginning to document the complexity of these interactions, but more is needed to identify causal relationships and effective policy interventions.
Aim of Atlas
The aim of the site is to allow users to explore how these food environmental factors affect food choices and diet quality down to the county level.
Users can choose one of the factors and apply them to any state or county.
The USDA also hopes the Atlas will help stimulate research on the determinants of food choices and diet quality.
It can also tell users about a community’s ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so.