Docket Data Nutritional Analysis
There are many ways in which a person's diet can be recorded and analyzed. It is possible to use food purchase receipts as a method of food intake. By analyzing the food and drinks that are purchased, we can get an idea of the type, amount and range of foods that are consumed.
Methods to Record Food Intake
Currently, there are several popular methods for recording a person's food intake - using a 24-hour food recall, completing a Food Frequency Questionnaire, and filling in a Food Diary. No one method is a perfect solution and each has its pros and cons. The method described here using food receipts is no exception.
What is Docket Data Nutritional Analysis
The method discussed here, using food purchase receipts to determine dietary intake, addresses several of the problems with the current methods (but had some issues of its own).
You can use information from shopper's dockets to determine what items are bought, their quantity and cost. The data from the dockets or receipts are in a format that can be captured and processed through a combination of scanning and specifically designed software. French et al. (2009) determined that two weeks of food purchase receipt collection was sufficient to adequately estimate household food purchasing patterns.
This method can be an effective way to capture the details of retail food purchases, as it does not rely on respondent recall. The processing will be able to capture all available transaction variables including; retailer, date, time, store location, product description, size, quantity, price, shopping trip size.
Problems with Docket Data Nutritional Analysis
Some of the obvious issues with this method are:
- it assumes all meals are bought (e.g. what about home-grown veggies)
- not all places provide receipts (e.g. fresh food weekend markets).
- It assumes that the food bought is for one person only, usually the groceries are done for a couple or family.
- It does not account for food wastage - not all of the food that is bought is consumed.
- It requires that all receipts are kept and submitted.
Bradley et al. (2017) found that using food receipts provided a reasonably accurate estimate of overall diet quality (as compared to a 24-h diet recall), but is generally less useful for characterizing dietary intake of specific nutrients. See below a list of related references.
- Bradley M. Appelhans, Simone A. French, Christy C. Tangney, Lisa M. Powell, and Yamin Wang. To what extent do food purchases reflect shoppers' diet quality and nutrient intake? Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017; 14: 46.
- Tang W, Aggarwal A, Liu Z, Acheson M, Rehm CD, Moudon AV, et al. Validating self-reported food expenditures against food store and eating-out receipts. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016;70:352–7.
- French SA, Wall M, Mitchell NR, Shimotsu ST, Welsh E. Annotated receipts capture household food purchases from a broad range of sources. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2009;6:37.
- French SA, Shimotsu ST, Wall M, Gerlach AF. Capturing the spectrum of household food and beverage purchasing behavior: a review. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108:2051–8.
- Cullen K, Baranowski T, Watson K, Nicklas T, Fisher J, O'Donnell S, et al. Food category purchases vary by household education and race/ethnicity: results from grocery receipts. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107:1747–52.
- Martin SL, Howell T, Duan Y, Walters M. The feasibility and utility of grocery receipt analyses for dietary assessment. Nutr J. 2006;5:10.
- DeWalt KM, D'Angelo S, McFadden M, Danner FW, Noland M, Kotchen JM. The use of itemized register tapes for analysis of household food acquisition patterns prompted by children. J Am Diet Assoc. 1990;90:559–62.