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Comparing supermarket loyalty card data with traditional diet survey data for understanding how protein is purchased and consumed in older adults for the UK, 2014-16

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Anthony Watson, Professor Emma Stevenson



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


BACKGROUND: Our ability to understand population-level dietary intake patterns is dependent on having access to high quality data. Diet surveys are common diet assessment methods, but can be limited by bias associated with under-reporting. Food purchases tracked using supermarket loyalty card records may supplement traditional surveys, however they are rarely available to academics and policy makers. The aim of our study is to explore population level patterns of protein purchasing and consumption in ageing adults (40 years onwards). METHODS: We used diet survey data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2014-16) on food consumption, and loyalty card records on food purchases from a major high street supermarket retailer (2016-17) covering the UK. We computed the percentage of total energy derived from protein, protein intake per kg of body mass, and percentage of protein acquired by food type. RESULTS: We found that protein consumption (as the percentage of total energy purchased) increased between ages 40-65 years, and declined thereafter. In comparison, protein purchased in supermarkets was roughly 2-2.5 percentage points lower at each year of age. The proportion of adults meeting recommended levels of protein was lowest in age groups 55-69 and 70+. The time of protein consumption was skewed towards evening meals, with low intakes during breakfast or between main meals. Meat, fish and poultry dominated as sources of protein purchased and consumed, although adults also acquired a large share of their protein from dairy and bread, with little from plant protein. CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides novel insights into how protein is purchased and consumed by ageing adults in the UK. Supermarket loyalty card data can reveal patterns of protein purchasing that when combined with traditional sources of dietary intake may enhance our understanding of dietary behaviours.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Green MA, Watson AW, Brunstrom JM, Corfe BM, Johnstone AM, Williams EA, Stevenson E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nutrition Journal

Year: 2020

Volume: 19

Online publication date: 13/08/2020

Acceptance date: 06/08/2020

Date deposited: 16/10/2020

ISSN (electronic): 1475-2891

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12937-020-00602-3

PubMed id: 32791968


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Funder referenceFunder name
BB/P023886/1Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)