Online Pilot Grocery Intervention among Rural and Urban Residents Aimed to Improve Purchasing Habits

Alison Gustafson, Rachel Gillespie, Emily Dewitt, Brittany Cox, Brynnan Dunaway, Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, Elizabeth Anderson Steeves, Angela C.B. Trude

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Online grocery shopping has the potential to improve access to food, particularly among low-income households located in urban food deserts and rural communities. The primary aim of this pilot intervention was to test whether a three-armed online grocery trial improved fruit and vegetable (F&V) purchases. Rural and urban adults across seven counties in Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina were recruited to participate in an 8-week intervention in fall 2021. A total of 184 adults were enrolled into the following groups: (1) brick-and-mortar “BM” (control participants only received reminders to submit weekly grocery shopping receipts); (2) online-only with no support “O” (participants received weekly reminders to grocery shop online and to submit itemized receipts); and (3) online shopping with intervention nudges “O+I” (participants received nudges three times per week to grocery shop online, meal ideas, recipes, Facebook group support, and weekly reminders to shop online and to submit itemized receipts). On average, reported food spending on F/V by the O+I participants was USD 6.84 more compared to the BM arm. Online shopping with behavioral nudges and nutrition information shows great promise for helping customers in diverse locations to navigate the increasing presence of online grocery shopping platforms and to improve F&V purchases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number871
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Behavioral nudge
  • Food access
  • Fruit and vegetable
  • Grocery shopping
  • Intervention
  • Online
  • Rural
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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