OBJECTIVES: The authors designed an instrument to measure objectively aspects of the built and food environments in urban areas, the EURO-PREVOB Community Questionnaire, within the EU-funded project 'Tackling the social and economic determinants of nutrition and physical activity for the prevention of obesity across Europe' (EURO-PREVOB). This paper describes its development, reliability, validity, feasibility and relevance to public health and obesity research. STUDY DESIGN: The Community Questionnaire is designed to measure key aspects of the food and built environments in urban areas of varying levels of affluence or deprivation, within different countries. The questionnaire assesses (1) the food environment and (2) the built environment. METHODS: Pilot tests of the EURO-PREVOB Community Questionnaire were conducted in five to 10 purposively sampled urban areas of different socio-economic status in each of Ankara, Brno, Marseille, Riga, and Sarajevo. Inter-rater reliability was compared between two pairs of fieldworkers in each city centre using three methods: inter-observer agreement (IOA), kappa statistics, and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). RESULTS: Data were collected successfully in all five cities. Overall reliability of the EURO-PREVOB Community Questionnaire was excellent (inter-observer agreement (IOA) > 0.87; intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC)s > 0.91 and kappa statistics > 0.7. However, assessment of certain aspects of the quality of the built environment yielded slightly lower IOA coefficients than the quantitative aspects. CONCLUSIONS: The EURO-PREVOB Community Questionnaire was found to be a reliable and practical observational tool for measuring differences in community-level data on environmental factors that can impact on dietary intake and physical activity. The next step is to evaluate its predictive power by collecting behavioural and anthropometric data relevant to obesity and its determinants.
- Cities Environment Design/*statistics & numerical data Europe Food Supply/*statistics & numerical data Humans Pilot Projects Reproducibility of Results Residence Characteristics/*statistics & numerical data Socioeconomic Factors *Surveys and Questionnaires