Within- and Between-Household Variation in Food Expenditures Among Low-Income Households Using a Novel Simple Annotated Receipt Method

Sruthi Valluri, Simone A. French, Brian Elbel, J. Michael Oakes, Sarah A. Rydell, Lisa J. Harnack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Household food purchasing behavior has gained interest as an intervention to improve nutrition and nutrition-associated outcomes. However, evaluating food expenditures is challenging in epidemiological studies. Assessment methods that are both valid and feasible for use among diverse, low-income populations are needed. We therefore developed a novel simple annotated receipt method to assess household food purchasing. First, we describe and evaluate the extent to which the method captures food purchasing information. We then evaluate within- and between-household variation in weekly food purchasing to determine sample sizes and the number of weeks of data needed to measure household food purchasing with adequate precision. Methods: Four weeks of food purchase receipt data were collected from 260 low-income households in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The proportion of receipt line items that could not be coded into one of 11 food categories (unidentified) was calculated, and a zero-inflated negative binomial regression was used to evaluate the association between unidentified receipt items and participant characteristics and store type. Within- and between-household coefficients of variation were calculated for total food expenditures and several food categories. Results: A low proportion of receipt line items (1.6%) could not be coded into a food category and the incidence of unidentified items did not appreciably vary by participant characteristics. Weekly expenditures on foods high in added sugar had higher within- and between-household coefficients of variation than weekly fruit and vegetable expenditures. To estimate mean weekly food expenditures within 20% of the group's usual (“true”) expenditures, 72 households were required. Nine weeks of data were required to achieve an r = 0.90 between observed and usual weekly food expenditures. Conclusions: The simple annotated receipt method may be a feasible tool for use in assessing food expenditures of low-income, diverse populations. Within- and between-household coefficients of variation suggest that the number of weeks of data or group sizes required to precisely estimate usual household expenditures is higher for foods high in added sugar compared to fruits and vegetables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number582999
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 22 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project described was supported by Award Numbers R01DK098152 and T32DK083250 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Valluri, French, Elbel, Oakes, Rydell and Harnack.

Keywords

  • between-household variation
  • epidemiology
  • food receipt method
  • household food purchasing
  • nutrition methodologies
  • within-household variation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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