Objective: To examine the feasibility of using point-of-sale data to assess dietary quality of food sales in remote stores.
Design: A multi-site cross-sectional assessment of food and nutrient composition of food sales. Point-of-sale data were linked to Australian Food and Nutrient Data and compared across study sites and with nutrient requirements.
Setting: Remote Aboriginal Australia.
Subject: Six stores.
Results: Point-of-sale data were readily available and provided a low-cost, efficient and objective assessment of food and nutrient sales. Similar patterns in macronutrient distribution, food expenditure and key food sources of nutrients were observed across stores. In all stores, beverages, cereal and cereal products, and meat and meat products comprised approximately half of food sales (range 49–57 %). Fruit and vegetable sales comprised 10·4 (sd 1·9) % on average. Carbohydrate contributed 54·4 (sd 3·0) % to energy; protein 13·5 (sd 1·1) %; total sugars 28·9 (sd 4·3) %; and the contribution of total saturated fat to energy ranged from 11·0 to 14·4 % across stores. Mg, Ca, K and fibre were limiting nutrients, and Na was four to five times higher than the midpoint of the average intake range. Relatively few foods were major sources of nutrients.
Conclusions: Point-of-sale data enabled an assessment of dietary quality within stores and across stores with no burden on communities and at no cost, other than time required for analysis and reporting. Similar food spending patterns and nutrient profiles were observed across the six stores. This suggests potential in using point-of-sale data to monitor and evaluate dietary quality in remote Australian communities.