Becoming new parents increases produce purchases

Higher income households adopted healthier spending patterns, but lower-income families did not, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior


Philadelphia, July 8, 2019

In the United States, both children and adults eat too few fruits and vegetables, which puts them at risk for poor diet quality and adverse health consequences. A new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published by Elsevier, found new parents increased their spending on produce in middle- and high-income households.

“Although adult food preferences are considered relatively stable, major life events such as becoming parents may serve as a cue to behavior change,” said lead author Betsy Q. Cliff, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. “This creates opportunities for nutrition education programs aimed at increasing produce consumption.”

This study used data available through the Nielsen Homescan Consumer Panel dataset. The panel, which is ongoing, includes over 40,000 participants who volunteer to have their retail purchases tracked. Panelists use in-home scanners to record all purchases. Categories of purchases include dry groceries, dairy, frozen food, and fresh produce. Nielsen also collects demographic information from participants such as number of children, employment status, education, etc.

The authors used demographic data from 2007 to 2015 to determine that 508 households in the panel became parents during the study period. The grocery budgets for these families were tracked to determine overall produce, fruits, vegetables, fresh produce, canned produce, frozen produce, and produce with another storage type. Gaining a child prompted an increase in the percent of a household’s grocery budget spent on produce; on average pre-parenthood households spent 10 percent of their budget on produce, which increased to 12 percent once the household included kids. However, the increase was only apparent in households with an income greater than 185 percent of the US federal poverty level (about $39,000 for a family of 3 in 2019). Among families with an income lower than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, there was no detectable change in fresh produce purchases. Although both fruit and vegetable purchases increased, fresh fruit had the greater increase. There was no detectable change in purchases of canned, frozen, or other storage types of produce.

While increased spending was identified, the factors that resulted in increased spending were not explored in this study. It is unknown if parents’ change in spending resulted from an increase in quality versus quantity of produce. Other limitations of the data include that they do not include food eaten outside of the home, it is possible that all purchases were not scanned, and the price of produce does not reflect any discount due to vouchers or coupons.

Betsy Cliff emphasized, “Increased purchasing by higher income households suggests further support is needed to help low-income new parents increase produce as a part of their families’ diet.”

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Notes for editors
The article is “Examining Household Changes in Produce Purchases Among New Parents,” by Betsy Q. Cliff, MS; Tarlise Townsend, BS; and Julia A. Wolfson, MPP, PhD (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2019.04.010). It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, volume 51, issue 7 (July-August 2019) published by Elsevier.

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 238 3628 or jnebmedia@elsevier.com to obtain copies. To schedule an interview with the authors please contact by Betsy Q. Cliff at bqcliff@umich.edu.

An audio podcast featuring an interview with Betsy Q. Cliff and information for journalists are located at www.jneb.org/content/podcast. Excerpts from the podcast may be reproduced by the media; contact Eileen Leahy to obtain permission.

The conclusions drawn from the Nielsen data are those of the researcher(s) and do not reflect the views of Nielsen. Nielsen is not responsible for, had no role in, and was not involved in analyzing and preparing the results reported.

About the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB)
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB), the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), is a refereed, scientific periodical that serves as a resource for all professionals with an interest in nutrition education and dietary/physical activity behaviors. The purpose of JNEB is to document and disseminate original research, emerging issues, and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide and to promote healthy, sustainable food choices. It supports the society’s efforts to disseminate innovative nutrition education strategies, and communicate information on food, nutrition, and health issues to students, professionals, policy makers, targeted audiences, and the public.

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior features articles that provide new insights and useful findings related to nutrition education research, practice, and policy. The content areas of JNEB reflect the diverse interests of health, nutrition, education, Cooperative Extension, and other professionals working in areas related to nutrition education and behavior. As the Society's official journal, JNEB also includes occasional policy statements, issue perspectives, and member communications. www.jneb.org

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps scientists and clinicians to find new answers, reshape human knowledge, and tackle the most urgent human crises. For 140 years, we have partnered with the research world to curate and verify scientific knowledge. Today, we’re committed to bringing that rigor to a new generation of platforms. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, 39,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. www.elsevier.com

Media contact
Eileen Leahy
Elsevier
+1 732 238 3628
jnebmedia@elsevier.com