The Cost of Healthy Foods in Seattle, WA: Price trends from 2004-2014
Freeman, Katherine Olivia
MetadataShow full item record
Introduction: The issues surrounding the cost of healthy foods have emerged as a significant barrier to improving dietary habits, especially for individuals and families of low socioeconomic status. Earlier reports have found that nutrient-dense, low energy-density foods have increased in price at a more rapid rate compared to energy-dense, low nutrient-density food. This study seeks to determine whether or not this pattern has continued from 2004-2014. Methods: This study was a longitudinal time analysis of retail prices for over 384 foods and beverages collected over an 11-year period (2004-2014). Prices were collected at six time points, every 2 y, at local Seattle metropolitan grocery store chains. Food cost was defined in three ways: price per 100 g edible portion, price per 1000 kcal, and price per serving. The independent variables were major food groups, energy density quintiles, and by two measures of nutrient density (NNR and NRF). Statistical analyses for this study consisted of computing the correlation between 2012 and 2014 prices, descriptive statistics for the mean cost of food, and repeated measures one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) to determine the effect of time on food prices. Results: Total food prices in 2014 were significantly higher than food prices in 2004. Foods in the meat/poultry/fish food group cost significantly more than all other food groups. The most energy dense foods were less costly per calorie than were less energy dense foods. Food prices per kcal, per 100 g, and per serving increased with increasing nutrient density of foods. Discussion: Reducing barriers to nutritious foods should be viewed as a preventative, cost-saving strategy over the long term. The identification of food pricing trends is a necessary step in the development and implementation of strategies that will improve purchasing behaviors and healthy dietary choices.
- Nutritional sciences