Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 20;17(20):E7637. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17207637.
The U.S. food system is rapidly changing, including the growth of mass merchandisers and dollar stores, which may impact the quality of packaged food purchases (PFPs). Furthermore, diet-related disparities exist by socioeconomic status (SES) and rural residence. We use data from the 2010-2018 Nielsen Homescan Panel to describe the nutritional profiles of PFPs by store type and to assess whether these vary by household urbanicity and SES. Store types include grocery stores, mass merchandisers, club stores, online shopping, dollar stores, and convenience/drug stores. Food and beverage groups contributing the most calories at each store type are estimated using survey-weighted means, while the associations of urbanicity and SES with nutritional quality are estimated using multivariate regression. We find that households that are customers at particular store types purchase the same quality of food regardless of urbanicity or SES. However, we find differences in the quality of foods between store types and that the quantity of calories purchased at each store type varies according to household urbanicity and SES. Rural shoppers tend to shop more at mass merchandisers and dollar stores with less healthful PFPs. We discuss implications for the types of store interventions most relevant for improving the quality of PFPs.