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
A Qualitative Study of Parents With Children 6 to 12 Years Old: Use of Restaurant Calorie Labels to Inform the Development of a Messaging Campaign
U.S. law mandates that chain restaurants with 20 or more locations post calorie information on their menus to inform consumers and encourage healthy choices. This study aimed to better understand parents’ perceptions and use of calorie labeling and the types of messages that might increase use. Researchers conducted 10 focus … More
A growing number of consumers are ordering groceries online and picking them up in-store (OOPIS) to limit their exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Although OOPIS has been widely adopted, WIC participants in most states are unable to use OOPIS to redeem their WIC benefits due to significant legal barriers. To … More
Assessing the Implementation of Kids’ Meals Healthy Default Beverage Policies in the State of California and City of Wilmington, Del.
Healthy default beverage (HDB) policies are one policy approach to limiting kids’ sugary drink consumption and encouraging healthier beverage consumption. These policies specifically require restaurants to offer only healthier drinks (e.g., water, milk, 100% juice) instead of sugary drinks as the default options with kids’ meals, a combination of food … More