Posted on Feb 23, 2010, 6 a.m.
As compared to nutrition education, price discounts promote healthy food choices among grocery shoppers.
While expectations levied on the food and beverage industry to encourage healthy eating, many consumers, health advocates, and governmental bodies wish for expanded improvements to reduce health problems associated with poor dietary choices. Cliona Ni Mhurchu, from The University of Auckland (New Zealand), and colleagues studied a group of 1,104 New Zealand shoppers, the majority of whom were women, 85% of whom rated their knowledge of nutrition and healthy eating as ‘moderate’ or ‘a lot’. The researchers found that neither price discounts nor tailored nutrition education had a significant effect on the amount of saturated fat purchased or the purchase of any particular nutrients. However, the overall quantity of healthy foods purchased by those randomly assigned to receive a 12.5% price discount was significantly higher six months into the study, at 0.79kg per week, which represented a 10 to 11% increase in purchases compared to the beginning of the program. Writing that: “Neither price discounts nor tailored nutrition education had a significant effect on nutrients purchased,” the team notes that: “[The] significant and sustained effect of discounts on food purchases suggests that pricing strategies hold promise as a means to improve population diets.”
Cliona Ni Mhurchu, Tony Blakely, Yannan Jiang, Helen C Eyles, Anthony Rodgers. “Effects of price discounts and tailored nutrition education on supermarket purchases: a randomized controlled trial.” Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, Jan 27, 2010; doi: doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28742.