Estimating spatial patterning of dietary behaviors using grocery transaction data


Unhealthy diet is becoming the most important preventable cause of chronic disease burden. Dietary patterns vary across neighborhoods as a function of policy, marketing, social support, economy, and the commercial food environment. Assessment of community-specific response to these socio-ecological factors is critical for the development and evaluation policy interventions and identification of nutrition inequality. Mass administration of dietary surveys is impractical and prohibitory expensive, and surveys typically fail to address variation of food selection at high geographic resolution. Marketing companies such as the Nielsen cooperation continuously collect and centralize scanned grocery transaction records from a geographically representative sample of retail food outlets to guide product promotions. These data can be harnessed to develop a model for the demand of specific foods using store and neighborhood attributes, providing a rich and detailed picture of the “foodscape” in an urban environment. In this study, we generated a spatial profile of food selection from estimated sales in food outlets in the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Montreal, Canada, using regular carbonated soft drinks (i.e. non-diet soda) as an initial example.


To demonstrate a method for estimating neighborhood food selection with secondary use of digital marketing data; grocery transaction records and retail business registry.

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December, 2016

July 27, 2017

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