New parents from middle and high-income households increase their spending on produce compared to low-income household parents, reports a new study. The findings of the study are published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
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."br>
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.
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."