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The more that households prioritise healthy eating, the better they can afford to consume a sufficient quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2020

Hayden Stewart
Affiliation:
Economic Research Service, USDA, 805 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64105, USA
Jeffrey Hyman
Affiliation:
Economic Research Service, USDA, 805 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64105, USA
Diansheng Dong
Affiliation:
Economic Research Service, USDA, 805 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64105, USA
Andrea Carlson
Affiliation:
Economic Research Service, USDA, 805 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64105, USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Objective:

To examine the variety of fruits and vegetables lower income households in the USA can buy while meeting Federal dietary recommendations at different levels of expenditure.

Design:

Simulation techniques were used to create 3000 market baskets of fruits and vegetables. All baskets contained enough food for a four-person household to meet dietary recommendations for fruits and vegetables over 1 week. Each basket’s retail value was estimated along with the ability of a representative household to afford each basket with different levels of expenditure.

Setting:

We used data from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Fruit and Vegetable Prices data product which reports a US household’s costs to buy each of 157 different fruit and vegetable products per edible cup equivalent.

Participants:

We consider the situation facing a lower income household that receives maximum benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These benefits are enough for the household to obtain a nutritious and palatable diet without spending any of its own money on food if it approximately follows USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan.

Results:

Households receiving maximum SNAP benefits can buy a sufficient variety and quantity of fruits and vegetables if they allocate about 40 % of those benefits to these two food groups. However, if households spend less than that amount, the variety of products they can buy while still satisfying recommendations drops off quickly.

Conclusion:

Households that move fruits and vegetables to the centre of their budgets can better afford to meet Federal dietary guidelines.

Type
Research paper
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Nutrition Society

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Stewart et al. supplementary material

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