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Food Prices Are Key to Eating Better

Want people to buy more apples and cauliflower? Make them cheaper

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Woman looking at grocery food prices on receipt

Perhaps getting more Americans to eat better is as simple as changing food prices by making healthy foods at the supermarket cheaper and unhealthful ones more pricey. Using a web-based virtual supermarket experiment, researchers in the Netherlands found that people purchased 9% more fruits and vegetables, 16% more whole grains, and 58% more unsweetened dairy products when subsidies made them less expensive.

The purchase of products made with refined grains dropped by 39%, and sales of processed dairy products like ice cream dropped 30%, when they were taxed to be more expensive than usual. Curiously, beverage and snack purchases in virtual shopping carts did not significantly change in response to pricing strategies.

It’s likely that governments would need to implement policies—like offering rebates for the purchase of fruits and veggies—to nudge supermarkets toward this style of food prices.

See also: Food Aesthetics Influence Eating Choices

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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