The Nutrient Content of U.S. Household Food Purchases by Store Type

  • Dalia Stern
    Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Shu Wen Ng
    Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Duke-UNC Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
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  • Barry M. Popkin
    Address correspondence to: Barry M. Popkin, PhD, W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 137 E Franklin St Room 6305, Chapel Hill NC 27514
    Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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Published:October 01, 2015DOI:


      Little is known about where households shop for packaged foods, what foods and beverages they purchase, and the nutrient content of these purchases. This study describes volume trends and nutrient content (nutrient profiles, food and beverage groups) of household packaged foods purchases (PFPs) by store type.


      Cross-sectional analysis of U.S. households’ PFPs (Nielsen Homescan) from 2000 to 2012 (N=652,023 household-year observations) with survey weights used for national representativeness. Household PFP trends (% volume), household purchases of key food and beverage groups based on caloric contribution, and mean caloric and nutrient densities (sugars, saturated fat, and sodium) of household PFPs were analyzed by store type. Data were collected from 2000 to 2012. Analyses were conducted in 2014–2015.


      The proportion of total volume of household PFPs significantly increased from 2000 to 2012 for mass merchandisers (13.1% to 23.9%), convenience stores (3.6% to 5.9%), and warehouse clubs (6.2% to 9.8%), and significantly decreased for grocery chains (58.5% to 46.3%) and non-chain grocers (10.3% to 5.2%). Top common sources of calories (%) from household PFPs by food/beverage group included: savory snacks, grain-based desserts, and regular soft drinks. The energy, total sugar, sodium, and saturated fat densities of household PFPs from mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs, and convenience stores were higher compared with grocery stores.


      PFPs from stores with poorer nutrient density (more energy, total sugar, sodium, and saturated fat-dense), such as warehouse clubs, mass merchandisers, and convenience stores are growing, representing a potential U.S. public health concern.
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