Nutrition and Health (including climate and ecological aspects)

Urban-regional patterns of food purchasing behaviour: a cross-sectional analysis of the 2015–2016 Australian Household Expenditure Survey

A Correction to this article was published on 02 November 2020

This article has been updated

Abstract

Background/objectives

In many high-income countries people living in regional (rural) areas have higher rates of chronic disease compared to people living in urban areas. Food purchasing behaviour provides a potential pathway linking residential location with dietary intake and health outcomes. This study examined the relationship between geographic location and food expenditure on a range of foods.

Subjects/methods

Data from the 2015–2016 Australian Household Expenditure Survey (number of households = 9827) were used to examine weekly household food expenditure and proportion of total food expenditure on 14 categories of food items. Foods were classified using the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Two-part models and zero–one inflated beta regression models were used to assess the association between geographic area and food expenditure.

Results

Average proportion of total food expenditure on fruit was estimated to be more for households located in major cities compared to households located in inner and outer regional areas. Households located in inner and outer regional areas allocated less to fresh fruit, fish and meals out compared to households in major cities. Households located in inner regional areas allocated a greater proportion of their food budget to sweet cakes, biscuits, puddings, desserts, chocolate and ice-cream compared to households in major cities and outer regional areas.

Conclusions

The geographic patterns in food purchasing suggest those in regional areas may be at risk of diets less aligned with healthy guidelines. Given the findings of this study suggesting geographic differences in food purchasing, further research is warranted to enhance contextual understanding of food purchasing behaviours in regional areas.

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Fig. 1: Estimated proportion of total weekly household expenditure on fruit and vegetables across geographic area in a national sample of Australian households from the 2015–2016 Household Expenditure Survey (n = 9801).
Fig. 2: Estimated proportion of total weekly household expenditure on core foods across geographic area in a national sample of Australian households from the 2015–2016 Household Expenditure Survey (n = 9801).
Fig. 3: Estimated proportion of total weekly household expenditure on non-core foods across geographic area in a national sample of Australian households from the 2015–16 Household Expenditure Survey (n = 9801).
Fig. 4: Estimated proportion of total weekly household expenditure on meals out across geographic area in a national sample of Australian households from the 2015–2016 Household Expenditure Survey (n = 9801).

Data availability

The researchers received approval from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to use the 2015–16 Household Expenditure Survey basic CURF (Confidentialised Unit Record Files) and detailed microdata. Data were accessed onsite from the ABS DataLab. All findings are based on the use of ABS microdata. Analysis of this secondary data source received an exemption from ethical review from Deakin University Human Research Ethics Committee.

Change history

  • 02 November 2020

    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.

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Funding

This work was supported by a Deakin University, Faculty of Health Postgraduate Research Scholarship to FD.

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FD, KB and LT conceptualised and designed the study. FD performed analyses and drafted the initial paper. KL and LT provided statistical input. All authors contributed to interpretation of results and critical revision of the paper, and approved the final paper as submitted.

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Correspondence to Fiona Dangerfield.

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Dangerfield, F., Lamb, K.E., Oostenbach, L.H. et al. Urban-regional patterns of food purchasing behaviour: a cross-sectional analysis of the 2015–2016 Australian Household Expenditure Survey. Eur J Clin Nutr (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-020-00746-9

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