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Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):736-47. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28742. Epub 2009 Dec 30.

Effects of price discounts and tailored nutrition education on supermarket purchases: a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

1
School of Population Health, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. c.nimhurchu@ctru.auckland.ac.nz

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Traditional methods to improve population diets have largely relied on individual responsibility, but there is growing interest in structural interventions such as pricing policies.

OBJECTIVE:

The aim was to evaluate the effect of price discounts and tailored nutrition education on supermarket food and nutrient purchases.

DESIGN:

A 2 x 2 factorial randomized controlled trial was conducted in 8 New Zealand supermarkets. A total of 1104 shoppers were randomly assigned to 1 of the following 4 interventions that were delivered over 6 mo: price discounts (12.5%) on healthier foods, tailored nutrition education, discounts plus education, or control (no intervention). The primary outcome was change in saturated fat purchased at 6 mo. Secondary outcomes were changes in other nutrients and foods purchased at 6 and 12 mo. Outcomes were assessed by using electronic scanner sales data.

RESULTS:

At 6 mo, the difference in saturated fat purchased for price discounts on healthier foods compared with that purchased for no discount on healthier foods was -0.02% (95% CI: -0.40%, 0.36%; P = 0.91). The corresponding difference for tailored nutrition education compared with that for no education was -0.09% (95% CI: -0.47%, 0.30%; P = 0.66). However, those subjects who were randomly assigned to receive price discounts bought significantly more predefined healthier foods at 6 mo (11% more; mean difference: 0.79 kg/wk; 95% CI: 0.43, 1.16; P < 0.001) and 12 mo (5% more; mean difference: 0.38 kg/wk; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.76; P = 0.045). Education had no effect on food purchases.

CONCLUSIONS:

Neither price discounts nor tailored nutrition education had a significant effect on nutrients purchased. However, the significant and sustained effect of discounts on food purchases suggests that pricing strategies hold promise as a means to improve population diets.

PMID:
20042528
DOI:
10.3945/ajcn.2009.28742
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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