Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tracking neighborhood eating habits to promote healthier diets

Date:
March 11, 2014
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Using checkout grocery data from Montreal neighborhoods as a tool to combat unhealthy food choices, a new study has developed a way for health agencies to track Montreal consumers' food choices, neighborhood by neighborhood. This novel approach could pave the way to better monitoring of consumers' behavior and more targeted efforts to encourage healthier diets.

Using the same digital data employed by marketers to promote food products, McGill University’s David Buckeridge has developed a way for health agencies to track Montreal consumers’ food choices, neighborhood by neighborhood. This novel approach could pave the way to better monitoring of consumers’ behavior and more targeted efforts to encourage healthier diets.
Credit: Image courtesy of McGill University

Poor food choices, such as over-consumption of carbonated soft drinks, are an important factor driving the global obesity epidemic and have been linked directly to diabetes and heart disease. While public health agencies are working to help people to make healthier choices, monitoring the effectiveness of these efforts has been costly and difficult. But now, using the same digital data employed by marketers to promote food products, McGill University's David Buckeridge has developed a way for health agencies to track Montreal consumers' food choices, neighborhood by neighborhood. This novel approach could pave the way to better monitoring of consumers' behavior and more targeted efforts to encourage healthier diets.

Related Articles


"We've taken data which most grocery and convenience stores generate with digital scanners to identify items at checkout. Companies use these data and produce information for marketing and other purposes," says Buckeridge, a public health physician and associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health in the Faculty of Medicine. "We developed a way to use these data towards a positive public health initiative: routine monitoring of eating habits over time in particular pockets of a city to reveal which populations consume foods that can contribute to negative health outcomes."

Buckeridge, who is also a member of the McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics (MCCHE), and his team measured monthly neighborhood-level purchases of soft drinks using digital data captured by store scanners in Montreal, Canada, between 2008 and 2010, then compared those results with census data describing detailed neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics. With this method, Buckeridge can isolate and measure any food choice, such as processed foods, salt-laden food and food containing saturated fat.

"We are working with public health agencies to determine how the methods we have developed can be used to monitor the food consumed within a neighborhood and develop strategies to encourage healthier diets. The evidence is clear that promoting healthy eating habits can prevent or reduce health problems, improve quality of life, and reduce health care costs," says Buckeridge, who is also a member of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), "We are aware that biological, geographical, environmental and economic factors as well as social influence impact what people eat. Monitoring and analysis of these factors is critical to inform efforts aimed at promoting healthy eating and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer."

"For each $10,000 decrease in median personal income, we observed a fivefold increase in estimated monthly sales of soft drinks," Buckeridge says. "This indicates that in neighborhoods where families have lower incomes people tend to buy many more soft drinks as compared to neighborhoods where families have higher incomes." Though the link between food consumption and socioeconomics may seem obvious, Buckeridge's metrics provide accurate measurements over time, essential building blocks towards improving global health.

The same approach could be used to monitor meals purchased from restaurants and to measure total neighborhood consumption of dietary components, such as salt and sugar -- topics that Buckeridge's team is now addressing in ongoing research. "Using digital data in this application opens the door to monitor specific populations over time you could not previously," he says. "It creates boundless research applications directly related to improving population health."

The results of this research are published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Tracking neighborhood eating habits to promote healthier diets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311124245.htm>.
McGill University. (2014, March 11). Tracking neighborhood eating habits to promote healthier diets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311124245.htm
McGill University. "Tracking neighborhood eating habits to promote healthier diets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311124245.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins