Towards Automated Risk-Factor Surveillance: Using Digital Grocery Purchasing Data to Measure Socioeconomic Inequalities in the Impact of In-Store Price Discounts on Dietary Choice


Obesity and related chronic diseases cost Canadians several billion dollars annually. Dietary intake, and in particular consumption of carbonated sweetened drinks (soda), has a strong effect on the incidence of obesity and other illness. Marketing research suggests that in-store promotion, and more specifically price discounting, has a strong effect on the purchase of energy-dense products such as soda. Attempts by public health authorities to monitor price discounts are currently limited by a lack of data and methods. Although rarely used in public health surveillance, electronic retail sales data collected around the world by marketing companies such as the Nielsen Corporation have an immense potential to measure dietary choices at high geographical resolution. These scanned sales data are recorded in real-time and they include a detailed product description, price, purchased quantity, store location, and product-specific advertising activities.


To assess the influence of in-store price discounts on soda purchasing by neighborhood socio-economic status in Montreal, Canada using digital grocery store-level sales data.

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December, 2015

September 19, 2017

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