Bar Code Scanners and Annotated Receipts: A Comparison of Measures of the Home Food Environment

Scott Shimotsu, Graduate Student
Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Minnesota

The home food environment plays an important role in influencing individual food choices. Valid measures are needed to describe the home food environment and to evaluate interventions that aim to change the home food environment. Current available measures consist of home shelf inventories, grocery store receipts and grocery store home scan data. No studies that we are aware of have conducted comparisons of two or more of these measures to determine their validity, cost in terms of researcher and participant time and effort, or resulting quality of data. The Take Action study is a community-based weight-gain prevention intervention with both environmental and individual-level behavior change components. One hundred households will be randomized to either a control or an intervention group for a one-year period. Baseline and follow-up measures of the home food environment include a home food and beverage inventory completed by the household food shopper and another independent home inventory by a trained research staff; and a 4-week period of food and beverage receipt collection and annotation collected by the household food shopper. The proposed study will collect a third measure of the home food environment through the use of a home bar code scanner. Fifty households will be trained by research staff to scan all food and beverage purchases during a 4-week period contemporaneous with the receipt data collection. Data derived from the home bar code scan will provide detailed food and beverage information of purchases, brand name, package size, price and nutritional information. The results of the study will provide useful information for selecting the most valid and feasible measurement of the home food environment in community-based nutrition interventions and will comprehensively characterize the contribution of grocery store, restaurant and other store purchases to the household food environment and household food purchase budget.