Food price increases have slight effect on children's weights

A chart showing how the price increases for carbonated beverages, juices and starchy vegetables slightly reduce children's body mass indices.

Some public health advocates point to lower priced, high-calorie foods as one of the contributors to the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity, claiming the low prices encourage households to buy and consume more of these foods. ERS researchers linked national data on children's body mass indices (BMI, a measure of weight adjusted for height) with prices for eight foods and beverages in ERS's Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database. The researchers found that price increases for some high-calorie foods and beverages are likely to have small, but statistically significant, effects on children's BMI, and in the direction expected. A 10-percent increase in the price of carbonated beverages lowered BMI by 0.42 percent over a year, while the same increase in the price of 100 percent juices and starchy vegetables lowered BMI by 0.3 percent over a year. This chart appeared in "What Role Do Food and Beverage Prices Have in Childhood Obesity?" in the June 2012 issue of ERS's Amber Waves magazine.

Download larger size chart (497 pixels by 352, 96 dpi)