Examining Household Changes in Produce Purchases Among New Parents

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Cliff, Betsy Q., Tarlise (Tarlie) Townsend, and Julia A. Wolfson. 2019. "Examining Household Changes in Produce Purchases Among New Parents." Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 51(7): 798-805.

Objective To measure whether parenthood is associated with changes in produce purchasing behavior, overall and stratified by income.

Design Retrospective examination of retail grocery purchases in the Nielsen Consumer Panel, a nationally representative sample of US households, 2007-2015. Participants and Setting A total of 21,939 households in the US, aged 25-49 years, observed ≤ 8 years; 508 households initiated parenthood during the study period. Main Outcome Measure Percentage of household grocery budget spent on produce each year.

Analysis Difference-in-differences design was used to measure change in the percentage of the grocery budget spent on produce after becoming a parent, relative to households that did not become parents, overall and stratified by income level. Ordinary least-squares regressions was used to adjust for confounders.

Percentage of the grocery budget spent on produce increased by 1.7 percentage points (15.7%) after initiating parenthood. Among higher-income households, produce purchases increased by 1.9 percentage points; no detectable change was found among low-income households. Conclusions and Implications Initiation of parenthood increased grocery expenditures on produce. Because new parenthood is a critical time in a person's life, this behavior change could create the opportunity for interventions with long-term effects. However, heterogeneous impacts by income indicated that lower-income households need more support and reveal 1 mechanism for income-related disparities in childhood nutrition.


children's health health disparities parent nutrition fruit vegetable

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