Age-Specific Differences in Online Grocery Shopping Behaviors and Attitudes among Adults with Low Income in the United States in 2021

Pasquale E. Rummo, Christina A. Roberto, Lorna E. Thorpe, Andrea B. Troxel, Brian Elbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Online grocery shopping has surged in popularity, but we know little about online grocery shopping behaviors and attitudes of adults with low income, including differences by age. Methods: From October to November 2021, we used a survey research firm to recruit a convenience sample of adults who have ever received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (n = 3526). Participants completed an online survey designed to assess diet and online food shopping behaviors. Using logistic regression, we examined the relationship between participant characteristics, including age, and the likelihood of online grocery shopping, and separately examined variation in the reasons for online grocery shopping by age. Results: About 54% of the participants reported shopping online for groceries in the previous 12 months. Odds of online shopping were higher for those aged 18–33 years (OR = 1.95 (95% CI: 1.52, 2.52; p < 0.001)) and 34–44 years (OR = 1.50 (95% CI: 1.19, 1.90; p < 0.001)) than for those aged ≥65 years. Odds were also higher for those who were food insecure and those with income below USD 20,000, higher educational attainment, and higher fruit and vegetable intake. Low prices were the most popular reason for online grocery shopping (57%). Adults aged 18–33 years old had higher odds of reporting low prices as a motivating factor than older adults (OR = 2.34 (95% CI: 1.78, 3.08; p < 0.001)) and lower odds of reporting being discouraged by lack of social interaction (OR = 0.34 (95% CI: 0.25, 0.45; p < 0.001)). Conclusion: Strategies for making online grocery shopping more affordable for adults with lower income may be promising, especially online produce. For older adults, additional support may be needed to make online shopping a suitable replacement for in-store shopping, such as education on technology and combining it with opportunities for social support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4427
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • disparities
  • food security
  • internet
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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