Navigation Links
Discounts on purchases of healthy foods can improve diets, study finds
Date:3/18/2013

Lowering the costs of healthy foods in supermarkets increases the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods that people eat, while also appearing to reduce consumption of nutritionally less-desirable foods, according to research from the RAND Corporation.

Researchers examined a program available to members of South Africa's largest private health insurance company that provides a rebate of 10 percent or 25 percent on purchases of healthy foods. The program, started in 2009, now has about 800 participating supermarkets and enrolls more than 260,000 households.

Interest has been growing in the United States and elsewhere about the ability of food discount programs to help improve diets. The U.S. Congress in 2008 approved funding for a demonstration of the concept, and both employers and insurance companies in the United States are beginning to test the approach.

In the South African program, shoppers can get the rebate on a list of foods selected by a panel of nutritionists, physicians and behavioral scientists. That list has over 6,000 items that account for 20 percent of food spending at supermarkets. Eligible items are marked at supermarket shelves and include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nonfat dairy, but excludes most items with added sugars or salt.

The research team collected supermarket scanner data linked to 170,000 households and survey data about diet patterns from 350,000 individuals, including both those who participated in the rebate program and those who did not. Regardless of how the information was analyzed, lower prices for healthy foods were significantly associated with better self-reported diet.

"These findings offer good evidence that lowering the cost of nutritionally preferable foods can motivate people to significantly improve their diet," said Roland Sturm, a study co-author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "But behavior changes are proportional to price changes. When there is a large gap between people's actual eating behaviors and what nutritionists recommend, even a 25 percent price change closes just a small fraction of that gap."

The analysis of supermarket scanner, published online this month by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that a rebate of 25 percent increased the ratio of healthy to total food purchased by 9.3 percent. In addition, the rebate increased the ratio of fruit and vegetables to total food purchases by 8.5 percent, and decreased the ratio of less-desirable food to total food purchases by 7.2 percent.

Less-desirable items that are discouraged include cookies, candy, chips, and soft drinks. The effects of the price subsidies appeared stable over time and the 25 percent rebate had consistently greater impact than the smaller rebate.

The research team also analyzed survey responses. Based on self-report, individuals who received a 25 percent rebate consumed an additional half-serving of fruits and vegetables each day. Those same participants reported being less likely to consume fast food, foods high in sugar and salt, fried foods and processed meats. There was no evidence that the rebate program reduced rates of obesity or that fewer participants were overweight. Survey results were published in the January issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior.

The research evaluates a benefit offered by Discovery Health, the largest health insurer in South Africa with about a one-third market share. The company's Vitality program is a supplemental benefit and a prerequisite for the HealthyFood benefit. The HealthyFood benefit is available to members at no cost, but needs to be activated by phone or online.

Upon activation, Vitality members receive a 10 percent rebate on healthy food purchases at participating supermarkets and become eligible for a 25 percent rebate after completing an online health risk assessment questionnaire. The maximum monthly purchase amount eligible for a rebate is 4,000 rands (about $480) per family.

"This program may be unique worldwide due to its size and geographic scope and is the only one funded by the private sector on an ongoing basis," said Ruopeng An, co-author of the studies and a fellow at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. "It is a real-life program, not a lab experiment, so we have to use different statistical tools to analyze it."

The research team employed fixed-effects panel data models to control for unobservable constant differences between participants and non-participants and instrumental variables to achieve an approximate randomization, among other tools.


'/>"/>

Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Crystal Travel Center in Thousand Oaks and Breezes Spa and Resorts Team Up to Offer Amazing Discounts for Upcoming Vacations
2. Web Entrepreneur Launches WDHDiscountSuperstore.com, an Online Mall with Many Different Products
3. Globus Cork Offers Sandy Relief Discounts
4. Huge Discounts Now Available Through Practical Wealth LLC for Business Owners Seeking Business Funding
5. People Overestimate the Happiness New Purchases Will Bring
6. Social ties have mixed impact on encouraging healthy behaviors in low-income areas
7. Life expectancy and healthy life years in the European Union, 2008-2010
8. Healthy Lifestyle Choices Could Cut Cancer Rates: Report
9. Healthy Behaviors Extend Life After Cancer, Experts Say
10. Healthy Weight Loss May Also Cut Your Cancer Risk
11. Study Redefines What a Healthy Vagina Is
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:9/21/2017)... ... September 21, 2017 , ... Preora Diagnostics Inc. ... screening tests, has received two prestigious recognitions that acknowledge the promise of its ... Preora has been named a Top 100 Finalist for the 16th annual ...
(Date:9/21/2017)... ... September 21, 2017 , ... FlipBelt, the fitness brand ... to detail to the athletic wear market with the launch of their FlipBelt Crops. ... have their essentials securely at their fingertips while at the gym, on the trail, ...
(Date:9/21/2017)... ... September 21, 2017 , ... ... Month, Lewis and Clark College Emeritus Professor of Education Gregory A. Smith examines ... of Asleep at the Switch: Schoolhouse Commercialism, Privacy, and the Failure of ...
(Date:9/20/2017)... ... September 20, 2017 , ... ... Coating System for clients that rely on safety and cleanliness. This unique flooring ... , Silver has been used for centuries for its antimicrobial properties. Unlike antibiotics, ...
(Date:9/20/2017)... ... ... Doctors on Liens has added the medical group Bones and Spine Surgery, ... personal injury lien basis. Founded by Dr. Wayne Cheng, MD and Dr. Gordon Yee, ... orthopedic injuries to patients in the Inland Empire. , Bones and Spines Surgery Inc ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/5/2017)... , Sept. 5, 2017  Just 18 months ... Insight is pleased to announce the appointment of three ... Tammy Wynne , Dominic Jones-Phillips and ... industry. Tammy ... team of market access writers. She has over ten ...
(Date:9/1/2017)... 1, 2017  Bayer will present the latest research from ... Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2017 Congress, September 8-12 in ... preclinical and clinical data on Bayer,s marketed portfolio and late-stage ... "We value the ... cancer research at ESMO," said Carsten Brunn , Head ...
(Date:8/28/2017)... Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: HRC), will present at the Morgan Stanley ... New York . John Greisch , Hill-Rom,s ... 11:05 a.m. Eastern Time. The live audio ... replay will be available one hour after the conclusion of ... About Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. Hill-Rom ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: