The Feds Spent $429,220 Tracking How Latino Families Behave at Grocery Stores

(ANTIMEDIA) California — It appears the United States government finds it necessary to spend taxpayer funds studying how Latino families behave at grocery stores. From a Washington Free Beacon article on Wednesday:

“The National Institutes of Health is spending over $400,000 on a study tracking the eye movements of Latinos and their children at grocery stores in a bid to fight obesity.

“The study at San Diego State University is using ‘eye-tracking technology’ to determine how overweight people make their decisions on what to buy at the grocery. Researchers hope they can identify strategies for changing groceries to nudge people into choosing options they consider healthier.”

According to the study grant, researchers selected the Latino population because it is “disproportionately affected by overweight and obesity, shops more frequently than the general population” and “is more likely to shop with children.”

The project, according to the grant, is looking at three important factors that influence decision-making in grocery stores: how products are arranged on shelves, how parents and children interact, and product factors such as healthfulness. Researchers go into specifics in describing their methodology:

“This two-year, mixed-methods study will use eye-tracking technology to identify aspects of the in-store environment that cue parents’ and children’s purchase requests. The dyad will each wear eye-tracking glasses during a single grocery shopping trip that capture visual and audio data for the entire shopping trip from both the parent’s and the child’s perspectives.”

They also make it clear that interviews with the Latino parents will add a socioeconomic layer to the study results:

“Parent interviews will capture household food shopping behavior, parenting behaviors, and relevant cultural and economic factors.”

 Equally clear is that the project’s goal is to discover ways for the government to, as the Washington Free Beacon put it, “nudge people” into making better decisions:
“Our approach is innovative in its focus on identifying methods for intervening on in-store and parent-child factors that influence parents’ and children’s purchase requests, parenting behaviors, and parents’ grocery shopping decision-making and purchasing behavior.”

Researchers state that “the modifiability of in-store and parent-child factors makes them excellent intervention targets” in the section of the project summary where its relevance to public health is explained.

The study, taxpayer-funded since 2016 through two awards from the National Institutes of Health, has received $429,220 so far.

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