Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Nutrition Journal and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research

Using multiple household food inventories to measure food availability in the home over 30 days: a pilot study

Cheree Sisk1, Joseph R Sharkey12*, William A McIntosh13 and Jenna Anding14

Author Affiliations

1 Intercollegiate Faculty of Nutrition, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX USA

2 Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center, College Station, TX USA

3 Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX USA

4 Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:19  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-19

Published: 15 April 2010

Abstract

Background

The consumption of foods, especially by children, may be determined by the types of foods that are available in the home. Because most studies use a single point of data collection to determine the types of foods in the home, which can miss the change in availability when resources are not available, the primary objective of this study was to determine the extent to which the weekly availability of household food items changed over one month by 1) developing the methodology for the direct observation of the presence and amount of food items in the home; 2) conducting five in-home household food inventories over a thirty-day period in a small convenience sample; and 3) determining the frequency that food items were present in the participating households.

Methods

After the development and pre-testing of the 251-item home observation guide that used direct observation to determine the presence and amount of food items in the home (refrigerator, freezer, pantry, elsewhere), two trained researchers recruited a convenience sample of 9 households (44.4% minority); administered a baseline questionnaire (personal info, shopping habits, food resources, and food security); and conducted 5 in-home assessments (7-day interval) over a 30-day period. Each in-home assessment included food-related activities since the last assessment, and an observational survey of types and amounts of foods present.

Results

Complete data were collected from all 9 women (32.8 y ± 6.0; 3 married; 4 ± 1.6 adults/children in household; 4 received food assistance; and 6 had very low food security) and their households. Weekly grocery purchases (place, amount, and purpose) varied from once (n = 1) to every week (n = 5); 4 used fast food 2-3 times/wk for 4 weeks. The weekly presence and amounts of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables and dairy varied.

Conclusions

The feasibility of conducting multiple in-home assessments was confirmed with 100% retention of participants through 5 in-home assessments, which paid particular attention to the intra-monthly changes in household availability in type and amount of foods. This study contributes to research on home food availability by identifying the importance of multiple measures, presence of certain foods in the home, and the feasibility of comprehensive in-home assessments.