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How distorted food prices discourage a healthy diet

Citation

van Rens, Thijs; Pancrazi, Roberto; Vukotic, Marija (2021), How distorted food prices discourage a healthy diet, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hmgqnk9hw

Abstract

Public policy making for the prevention of diet-related disease is impeded by a lack of evidence on whether poor diets are a matter of personal responsibility or a choice set narrowed by environmental conditions. An important element of the environment are market imperfections in food retail that distort prices. We use a rich dataset on quantities and prices of food purchases in the US and a structural model of dietary choices to examine variation in diets across household that have different levels of income and live in different neighborhoods. We find that price distortions account for one-third of the gap between the recommended and actual intake of fruits and vegetables. A feasible fiscal intervention that remedies these distortions makes all consumers better off.

Methods

These are secondary datasets with information on quantities and prices of purchases fruits and vegetables ("healthy food") and other food ("unhealthy food") by income quantiles of households and US counties. These statistics were calculated from the The NielsenIQ marketing datasets, which can be purchased from the Kilts Center for Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Usage Notes

These data underlie the figures presented in the paper, and also served as the inputs to estimate the structural model described there.