Online grocery shopping: Promise and pitfalls for healthier food and beverage purchases

Stephanie B. Jilcott Pitts, Shu Wen Ng, Jonathan L. Blitstein, Alison Gustafson, Mihai Niculescu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Objectives (i) To determine the current state of online grocery shopping, including individuals' motivations for shopping for groceries online and types of foods purchased; and (ii) to identify the potential promise and pitfalls that online grocery shopping may offer in relation to food and beverage purchases.Design PubMed, ABI/INFORM and Google Scholar were searched to identify published research.Setting To be included, studies must have been published between 2007 and 2017 in English, based in the USA or Europe (including the UK), and focused on: (i) motivations for online grocery shopping; (ii) the cognitive/psychosocial domain; and (iii) the community or neighbourhood food environment domain.Subjects Our search yielded twenty-four relevant papers.Results Findings indicate that online grocery shopping can be a double-edged sword. While it has the potential to increase healthy choices via reduced unhealthy impulse purchases, nutrition labelling strategies, and as a method to overcome food access limitations among individuals with limited access to a brick-and-mortar store, it also has the potential to increase unhealthy choices due to reasons such as consumers' hesitance to purchase fresh produce online.Conclusions Additional research is needed to determine the most effective ways to positively engage customers to use online grocery shopping to make healthier choices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3360-3376
Number of pages17
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number18
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors 2018.


  • Healthy eating
  • Internet grocery shopping
  • Nutrition
  • Online grocery shopping
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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