Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition
Poster Board Number: 47
Objective: To model the effect on diet costs of substituting unhealthy foods with healthy foods among low-income Americans.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Postdoctoral Research Nutritionist
Grand Forks, North Dakota