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Access to fast food and food prices: relationship with fruit and vegetable consumption and overweight among adolescents.

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Department of Economics, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


We examine the extent to which food prices and restaurant outlet density are associated with adolescent fruit and vegetable consumption, body mass index (BMI), and the probability of overweight. We use repeated cross-sections of individual-level data on adolescents from the Monitoring the Future Surveys from 1997 to 2003 combined with fast food and fruit and vegetable prices obtained from the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association and fast food and full-service restaurant outlet density measures obtained from Dun & Bradstreet. The results suggest that the price of a fast food meal is an important determinant of adolescents' body weight and eating habits: a 10% increase in the price of a fast food meal leads to a 3.0% increase in the probability of frequent fruit and vegetable consumption, a 0.4% decrease in BMI, and a 5.9% decrease in probability of overweight. The price of fruits and vegetables and restaurant outlet density are less important determinants, although these variables typically have the expected sign and are often statistically associated with our outcome measures. Despite these findings, changes in all observed economic and socio-demographic characteristics together only explain roughly one-quarter of the change in mean BMI and one-fifth of the change in overweight over the 1997-2003 sampling period.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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