To develop an objective, nutrient-based, healthy eating indicator shopping basket (HEISB) tool for use in studies of access to healthy food.
Tool development used a literature search to identify previous practice, web information on current definition of healthy foods by the UK Food Standards Agency, and population-based dietary surveys to identify culturally acceptable foods. These findings were then appraised with respect to practical fieldwork considerations.
The review took account of surveys undertaken in a range of geographical areas.
Previous tools have varied in the foods selected and the rationale for inclusion. Most have considered nutritional composition but no systematic definition has been used and foods have been subjectively classified as ‘less healthy’ or ‘more healthy’. Recent UK work on nutrient profiling enabled individual food items to be objectively assessed for inclusion. Data from national food surveys enabled commonly consumed and culturally acceptable foods to be identified. Practical considerations included item use in meals, convenience, price, and fieldwork constraints. Other issues including health and price discriminators as well as regional preferences were considered. The final HEISB tool comprised 35 items within the following categories – 17 from fruit and vegetables, nine from potatoes, bread and cereal, five from fish/meats, three from dairy, and one from fatty and sugary foods.
The tool provides a rational basis for examining access and availability of healthy foods in cross-sectional and longitudinal retail and consumer studies.
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