Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 47

P06-026 - A novel food pricing tool to examine the cost of making healthier food choices among low-income Americans

Monday, Jun 11
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Objective: To model the effect on diet costs of substituting unhealthy foods with healthy foods among low-income Americans.

National average retail food prices were estimated using 2013 national retail scanner data from USDA's Economic Research Service. Food prices were linked to foods reported consumed by participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. Low-income individuals were defined by income eligibility standards for participation in federal food assistance programs. Main food sources of saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium were substituted with healthy alternatives, and daily diet costs were estimated pre- and post-substitution.

The main food sources of saturated fat were cheese, burgers, and Mexican dishes. Main food sources of added sugar were soda, sweetened tea, and fruit drinks. Main food sources of sodium were white bread; pasta, rice, and mixed refined-grain dishes; and burgers. Pre-substitution daily diet cost was $8.56 (95% CI 8.05-9.06). Substituting one food each high in saturated fat, added sugar, or sodium, with one healthy alternative, resulted in a daily diet cost of $8.40 (7.90-8.89), $8.40 (7.88-8.93), and $8.29 (7.81-8.77), respectively (P

Conclusions: Substituting one unhealthy food with one healthy food can moderately reduce daily diet costs for low-income individuals by $0.16-0.27. As substantial evidence shows that even small dietary improvements can elicit meaningful health gains, our result may contribute to feasible approaches to improve health outcomes among this at-risk population by a cost-effective shift toward healthier food choices.

Funding Source: This research was funded by the Egg Nutrition Center of the American Egg Board and USDA-ARS 3062-51000-051-00D.

CoAuthors: Andrea Carlson – USDA-ERS; Lisa Jahns – USDA, ARS; James Roemmich – USDA, ARS

Zach Conrad

Postdoctoral Research Nutritionist
Grand Forks, North Dakota