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Health Place. 2011 Nov;17(6):1235-41. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2011.07.011. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

An economic analysis of community-level fast food prices and individual-level fast food intake: a longitudinal study.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-3997, USA.



While dietary intake is shaped by cost, there is minimal research on the association between community-level food prices and dietary intake.


We used nationally representative, longitudinal data to examine how community-level food price variation was associated with individual-level fast food intake by race/ethnicity and income across waves II (1996) and III (2001-2002) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (n=11,088) from 158 baseline and 363 follow-up US counties.


Negative binomial regression models predicting the number of fast food meals per week show strong relationships between fast food consumption and prices of fast food and soda that varied by gender and race/ethnicity. We found relatively stronger association between food prices and fast food intake for males and relatively greater price sensitivity for soda versus burgers. In the group with strongest associations (black males), a 20% increase in the price of soda was associated with a decrease of 0.25 visits to a fast food restaurant per week.


Economic incentives may be an effective mechanism to address fast food intake in an age group at high risk for obesity.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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