Financial incentives increase purchases of fruit and vegetables among lower-income households with children

Alyssa Moran, Anne Thorndike, Rebecca Franckle, Rebecca Boulos, Heather Doran, Aarohee Fulay, Julie Greene, Dan Blue, Jason P. Block, Eric B. Rimm, Michele Polacsek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The high cost of fruit and vegetables can be a barrier to healthy eating, particularly among lower-income households with children. We examined the effects of a financial incentive on purchases at a single supermarket by primary shoppers from low-income households who had at least one child. Participation in an in-store Cooking Matters event was requested for incentivized subjects but optional for their nonincentivized controls. The sample included but was not limited to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants. Compared to the controls, incentivized shoppers—who were given an immediate 50 percent discount on qualifying fruit and vegetables—increased weekly spending on those items by 27 percent; this change was for fresh produce. There was no change in purchases of frozen and canned produce or unhealthful foods. Estimated annual average daily consumption of fruit and vegetables by the incentivized shoppers and by one designated child per incentivized household did not change. Attendance at Cooking Matters events was low. These findings support financial incentive programs to increase fruit and vegetable purchasing but suggest that effective complementary approaches are needed to improve diet quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1557-1566
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Affairs
Volume38
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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