The impact of cost on the availability of fruits and vegetables in the homes of schoolchildren in Birmingham, Alabama.

Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama, Birmingham, USA.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.23). 03/2007; 97(2):367-72. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.080655
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Fruit and vegetable cost is a presumed barrier to intake. We sought to determine whether fruit and vegetable cost and consumers' race and income would predict availability of fruits and vegetables in homes of schoolchildren in the Birmingham, Ala, area.
Data on availability of 27 fruit and vegetable items were obtained from homes of 1355 children (32% African American) in the Birmingham area. Fruit and vegetable costs were obtained from the US Department of Agriculture. We used discrete choice analysis with the dependent variable represented as presence or absence of the fruit or vegetable item. Explanatory variables included fruit and vegetable price per serving; child's gender, race, and age; and parent's body mass index and income.
Higher cost was inversely related to fruit and vegetable availability. Higher income, African American race, and female gender were positively related to availability. Cost per serving was stratified into 3 categories-low, medium, and high. Relative to low-cost items, only high-cost items decreased the odds of availability significantly.
Fruit and vegetable cost does impact availability and has the greatest impact for high-cost items. Although cost was inversely related to availability, African Americans reported higher fruit and vegetable availability than Whites. Additional studies are needed to determine whether food items of lower nutritive value and comparable cost impact availability.

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