Poster Theater Flash Session
Community and Public Health Nutrition
Objectives : Federal food assistance programs target low-income and nutritionally-vulnerable Americans, with the dual goals of reducing food insecurity and improving diet quality. Individuals on limited food budgets may face constraints on their ability to purchase healthy foods when their prices increase, which could mitigate the intended impact of federal feeding programs. To better understand the effect of food price changes on healthy food purchases, we use a laboratory-based grocery store experiment to estimate the own- and cross-price elasticity of foods among individuals participating in federal food assistance programs (participants) and those not participating in these programs (non-participants). We focus on eggs, which are rich in many important nutrients and can be a healthy part of a wide range of cultural food menus.
Methods : Participants (n=40) and non-participants (n=40) were recruited to participate in this study. Subjects were assigned a food budget based on the USDA Thrifty Food Plan, and were asked to purchase enough food for their families for a one week period using our laboratory-based grocery store. Questionnaires and body measurements were used to collect information on demographic characteristics, psychosocial factors, and body mass index. Mixed linear regression models were used to assess the relationship between food price changes and food purchases (price elasticity).
Results : Subjects in both groups decreased their egg purchases by 6.9-8.6% for every 10% increase in egg price, although no difference in price elasticity was observed between groups. For every 10% increase in the price of all non-egg foods, egg purchases increased by 3.3% among participants but not non-participants, and purchases for foods such as lean meats, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains decreased by up to 14% among both groups.
Conclusions : Subjects in both groups purchased fewer eggs when their price increased. When the price of non-egg foods increased, participants moderately increased their purchase of eggs, and subjects in both groups drastically decreased their purchase of many healthy foods. Efforts to emphasize healthy eating strategies on limited budgets will be especially important during times of food price increases.
Funding Sources :
This research was funded by the Egg Nutrition Center/American Egg Board and USDA-ARS.