A computer-based incentivized food basket choice tool: Presentation and evaluation

Jonathan Spiteri, Jonathan James, Michele Belot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

To develop and evaluate a low-cost computer-based tool to elicit dietary choices in an incentive compatible manner, which can be used on-line or as part of a laboratory study.

The study was conducted with around 255 adults. Respondents were asked to allocate a fixed monetary budget across a choice of around a hundred grocery items with the prospect of receiving these items with some probability delivered to their home by a real supermarket. The tool covers a broad range of food items, allows inference of macro-nutrients and calories, and allows the researcher to fix the choice set participants can choose from. We compare the information derived from our incentivized tool, and compare it to alternative low-cost ways of measuring dietary intake, namely the food frequency questionnaire and a one-shot version of the 24-hour dietary recall, which are both based on self-reports. We compare the calorie intake indicators derived from each
tool with a number of biometric measures for each subject, namely weight,
body-mass-index (BMI) and waist size.

The results show that the dietary information collected is only weakly correlated across the three methods. We find that only the calorie intake measure from our incentivized tool is positively and significantly related to each of the biometric indicators.
Specifically, a 10% increase in calorie intake is associated with a 1.5% increase in BMI.
By contrast, we find no significant correlations for either of the two measures based on self-reports.

The computer-based tool is a promising new, low-cost measure of dietary choices, particularly in one-shot situations where such behaviours are only observed once, whereas other tools like 24-hour dietary recalls and food frequency questionnaires may be more suited when they are administered repeatedly. The tool may be useful for research conducted with limited time and budget.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2019


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