Capturing the Complete Food Environment with Commercial Data: A Comparison of TDLinx, ReCount, and NETS

Authors: Chris Dicken*, USDA/Economic Research Service
Topics: Business Geography
Keywords: Food Environment, Food Establishment Data Sets, NETS, TDLinx, ReCount
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Truman, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


There is growing interest in how the local food environment relates to diet quality and health, especially for low-income Americans. To study how consumers are affected by the number and types of food outlets available in their local community, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) purchases three proprietary datasets: TDLinx (a census of food-at-home (FAH) establishments), ReCount, (a census of food-away-from-home (FAFH) establishments) and the National Establishment Time Series Database (NETS) (a census of establishments across all sectors). These datasets contain comprehensive lists of food establishments and each establishment’s characteristics, such as sales and location. We compare these three datasets to each other in order to determine the relative coverage of the food environment in each dataset using GIS and fuzzy matching methods. We find differences in coverage between FAH and FAFH establishments. Our results highlight the difficulty of capturing nontraditional FAH retailers while excluding establishments that do not sell food. In addition, our results highlight the importance of finding innovative techniques to gather information on FAFH establishments.

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