Preventing Chronic Disease is an online peer-reviewed journal published by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They recently recognized PhD student Ellen Kersten's research as outstanding and published her paper in this month's edition.
Ellen Kersten and colleagues' paper, Small Food Stores and Availability of Nutritious Foods: A Comparison of Database and In-Store Measures, Northern California, 2009, examined one of the fundamental tools used in the food environment research. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes is the standard used by federal statistical agencies in classifying businesses for statistical study related to the business economy. These codes are often used for food research and practice to classify food outlets, which can then assist researchers in measuring the availability of healthy foods.
There is an assumption that stores with similar NAICS codes offer similar products. After conducting a field investigation, Ellen and her colleagues discovered that the NAICS code for small grocery stores did not represent a homogenous set of stores. Food offerings varied substantially in the study sample, suggesting that the NAICS code may be inappropriate for epidemiologic studies. Other implications of the study include the importance of using data within context and ensuring that the basic measurements used in statistical studies are accurate.
Ellen is a part of the Morello-Frosch Research Group.