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An Exploration of the Relationship Between Income and Eating Behavior

  • Susan E. Chen (a1), Jing Liu (a2) and James K. Binkley (a2)

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between income and eating behavior. To do this we examine choice in two food categories: milk and soft drinks. These categories have varieties differing in health qualities but either no differences in cost or lower cost for the healthier types. By examining food choices when there are no measurable cost differences but clear health differences, we are able to isolate the association between income and healthy eating behavior. We find a negative association between income and dietary intake of higher-calorie types of milk and soft drinks. Our estimates are consistent across the five sets of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals data that we study. For 2005 we estimate that an income increase of $10,000 is linked to a reduction in 377 calories from milk and 2,555 calories from soft drinks per year. Our results suggest that the cost of food may not be the only reason why low income people have less healthy diets.

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An Exploration of the Relationship Between Income and Eating Behavior

  • Susan E. Chen (a1), Jing Liu (a2) and James K. Binkley (a2)

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