This article describes and addresses the challenges researchers face when utilizing natural experimental studies to evaluate changes to the retail food environment. Through the use of case studies, the article describes strategies and approaches for overcoming these challenges. The challenges are divided into categories of: 1) study design and analysis; 2) selection of participants, selection of measure, and obtainment of data; and 3) real-world considerations. Advantages and disadvantages to each approach are provided. Consideration of these challenges and best practices can minimize bias and ensure natural experimental studies effectively assess the impact of policies and programs on food access, availability, and intake for use by stakeholders, policymakers, and food retailers.
Best Practices for Using Natural Experiments to Evaluate Retail Food and Beverage Policies and Interventions
This study aimed to: explore the number and spatial distribution of 9,556 SNAP stores in North Carolina by type and assess how SNAP benefit redemption is linked to store type; compare the demographics of populations living in areas with a high concentration of SNAP participants vs areas with a lower … More
This study builds on the recommendations for healthy minimum stocking developed by an expert panel convened by Healthy Eating Research in 2015. It tests the feasibility of the standards and provides practical insight from retailers about implementation. Researchers collected qualitative and quantitative data from 57 small stores in four states … More
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) required major revisions to food packages in 2009. This study examines associations between WIC revisions and nutritional profiles of packaged food purchases from 2008 to 2014 among 4,537 low-income households with preschoolers in the U.S. using Nielsen Homescan Consumer … More