Income, food prices, and participation of fruit and vegetables in the diet

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the influence of income and food prices on household consumption of fruit and vegetables. METHODS: Data from the 1998/99 Household Budget Survey were analyzed, which was conducted by the Fundação Instituto de Pesquisas Econômicas (Institute for Economic Research Foundation) in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The influence of income and food price on the relative participation of fruit and vegetables in the total household calorie intake was studied using regression analysis to estimate elasticity coefficients. RESULTS: There was an increase in participation of fruit and vegetables in total household calorie purchases along with the recorded decrease in prices, increase in family income, and increase in prices of other foods. A one percent decrease in the price of fruit and vegetables would lead to a 0.2% increase in the participation of these items in the total calorie content; a 1% increase in the price of other foods would increase fruit and vegetable participation by 0.07%; and a 1% increase in family income would increase participation by 0.04%. The effect of the prices of other foods was less intense in higher income groups, and in the other two scenarios we were unable to identify consistent income-associated patterns. CONCLUSIONS: A reduction in the price of fruit and vegetables, which can be achieved by means of public policies, could lead to an increase in fruit and vegetable intake in households in São Paulo and in other cities with similar scenarios.

Diet; Food habits; Food; Income; Feeding; Nutrition programmes and policies

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