|About The Nutrition Environment Assessment Tool
Purpose of the Nutrition Environment Assessment Tool
The Michigan Healthy Communities Collaborative
have a goal of helping Michigan’s citizens achieve better health through increased
physical activity, healthier eating and adopting tobacco-free lifestyles. This
website focuses on helping Michigan citizens eat more healthfully. There is a
clear need in Michigan for supporting people to improve their nutrition – 62% of
Michigan adults are overweight or obese. Obesity and overweight are risk factors for
many diseases, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Additionally, healthy eating habits are linked to overall good health.
People cannot eat healthfully unless their social and physical environment
supports these behaviors. A healthy nutrition environment is one where access to
healthy food options is supported in the classroom, workplace and throughout the
community. This means there is an opportunity to select healthy foods in the school,
workplace and community; to eat in pleasant and comfortable surroundings; and to have
access to healthy foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, in many venues in the
community. A healthy nutrition environment also provides positive messages that help
community members develop healthy eating habits while providing an opportunity to
practice these healthy habits.
The purpose of the Nutrition Environment Assessment Tool is to enable Michigan
communities (community planners and/or concerned organizations and individuals) to:
- Assess themselves on how well they are doing at making it easy for residents to eat healthfully;
- Increase their awareness of the types of steps they can take to promote healthy eating and good nutrition among community residents; and
- Identify and further define actions they can take that will make a difference.
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NEAT Overview and Summary
The Nutrition Environment Assessment Tool is a questionnaire intended to
provide an assessment of a community’s health environment with regard to promoting
and supporting healthy eating.
The NEAT takes 15 to 30 minutes to complete online after conducting the research and
collecting the data necessary to answer the questions. It is estimated that it will
take several hours for research and data collection and for team meetings to decide
on the approach to the data gathering and to come to consensus on the answers. To
assist communities in completing the NEAT, a Resource Guide is provided. The Resource
Guide includes pointers to likely data sources within most communities along with
other information to assist communities in completing the NEAT.
The NEAT is structured by topic areas/locations where people make decisions about
the foods they will eat and where the environment plays an important role.
Each section is divided into subsections, with each subsection representing an
important opportunity that exists for creating a healthier food environment.
The last section, Section 4 — Summary & Next Steps, is a planning section to allow communities
to reflect on what they learned in completing the NEAT and to identify possible
next steps based on the assessment results combined with their own ideas about
what would best serve the community.
- Section 1 — Community Policies & Environment
- Section 2 — Worksite Policies & Environment
- Section 3 — School Policies & Environment
The NEAT also includes a scorecard to provide feedback.
Scores are calculated each time you save when completing the online NEAT,
thereby giving each community instant feedback each time they enter and save
their data. The NEAT scorecard provides feedback on each sub-section of the
assessment (as each of these represents and opportunity for creating a healthier
environment); each section of the assessment; and an overall score. The scorecard
also provides a Support Rating that indicates the extent to which any factor supports
healthy eating (from Fully Supportive to Not at all Supportive).
Communities that complete the NEAT also gain access to an online planning tool –
the NEAT Action Plan. The NEAT Action Plan provides a convenient way for community
teams to prioritize and plan actions that can make a difference and to track progress
The online assessment is available on this website. Michigan communities that
wish to complete NEAT must register. Registration takes less than 5 minutes.
A preview copy of the NEAT is also available in the Preview the NEAT section of this
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Benefits of Completing the NEAT
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All of us would like to be able to honestly claim that our community is a
very desirable place to live. And a community that promotes good health is a
desirable place indeed. Communities that support and maintain positive environments
for people to make healthier food choices can enhance the personal status of its
members and make the community more appealing in general.
The NEAT can be an important step toward making your community healthier.
By completing the NEAT, you receive feedback about the extent to which your
community makes it easier to eat healthfully. Completing the NEAT also helps you
get ideas about changes and improvements your community might make to promote
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Any city, township, charter township, or village in the State of Michigan
is eligible to complete the Nutrition Environment Assessment Tool. NEAT can be
also be used to assess a neighborhood or group of neighborhoods.
How to Complete the NEAT
The best approach to completing the NEAT is to form a team that will be responsible
for completing the assessment. Broad participation is important for meaningful
assessment and successful planning and implementation. Representatives and
stakeholders from groups such as the following will help ensure success:
To complete the NEAT, you must also register online at this website.
Registration takes less than five minutes and gives you access to the online NEAT.
A printable preview copy of the NEAT is also available in the Preview the NEAT section
of this website. This might be useful for team meetings or for recruiting team
- Community planners
- Local government
- Community parks and recreation departments
- Health professionals
- Community groups,organizations & leagues
- Local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce
- Restaurant and grocery store management
- Colleges and university extension specialists and health educators
- Social service organizations
- Senior centers and nursing homes
- Places of worship
- Local Media
Once the team is formed, schedule a meeting to review the NEAT, determine your
approach to data collection, assign responsibility for information gathering for
each section of the NEAT, and determine the approach for obtaining consensus on
each NEAT question. A second meeting might be scheduled to share data and agree on
After the team has agreed on the answers, complete the online NEAT.
The data entry for the online NEAT simply involves clicking on the
appropriate response for each question. Complete instructions for entering
data and completing the NEAT are provided upon registration and can be accessed
any time you are completing the NEAT.
More information on using the NEAT to create a healthier community environment can be found
in the About Healthy Food Environments section of this website. In addition to providing
more information on healthy food environments, this section outlines a seven-step process for
creating such an environment using NEAT as an assessment and planning tool.
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Where to Find Answers to Your Questions About NEAT
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Read the Frequently Asked Questions —
Most of the answers can be found there. If your questions remain unanswered after
reading the Frequently Asked Questions, please contact us.
A special thanks to the following for their assistance in developing, testing and reviewing the Nutrition Environment Assessment Tool (NEAT):
Calhoun County Public Health Department
Daston Communications, Inc.
Detroit Medical Center/Community Health Institutes
Livingston County Health Department
Marquette County Health Department
Midland Cancer Community Services
Vanguard Community Development Corporation
Washtenaw County Extension
The Nutrition Environment Assessment Tool, associated materials and
Promoting Healthy Eating website are for educational purposes only. They are
public property and may be reproduced in part or whole by any means without
written permission of the publisher as long as credit is given to the
Michigan Healthy Communities Collaborative. Reprinting cannot be used to endorse or advertise a commercial product or company.
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