A methodological framework to explore the impacts of a partner’s time use and geography on an individual’s diet

Authors: Bochu Liu*, University of Toronto, Michael Widener, University of Toronto, Lindsey Smith, University of Toronto
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Food Systems, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: Household, food behavior, time use, GPS, sequence analysis
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 8
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


An individual’s dietary behaviors and outcomes may be influenced by their partner’s daily activities and spatial patterns. However, this relationship is understudied, in part because of a lack of a tailored methodological framework. Previous studies have compared diet-related activities between household members using aggregated time composition data but have not shown how a partner’s disaggregated time use and spatial patterns may affect an individual’s dietary activities.
To address this gap, this study explores commonly coordinated activities related to food purchasing and consumption by classifying individuals' time use and location sequences, and examines associations between a partner’s classifications and an individual’s dietary behaviors and outcomes.

A multiple-sequence structure is used to integrate disaggregated time use and location from seven-day time use diary and GPS data for 20 partnered couples living in Toronto. Activity categories and distance from home and grocery retailers are included at ten-minute intervals and the optimal matching algorithm and hierarchical clustering method are used to classify participants into various activity and location sequence types. Alluvial plots and Kruskal-Wallis tests are then computed to examine the associations between partners’ sequences and an individual’s diet-related activities.

The classifications are characterized by varying activity participation and use of space. Ways to investigate associations between a partner’s classifications and an individual’s dietary activities are tested. This paper presents a novel methodological framework to extract activity and spatial patterns from time-use diaries and GPS trajectories and demonstrates the potential to explore how a partner’s time-use and spatial patterns may impact an individual’s diet.

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