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Buying food more frequently leads to healthier eating habits

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Aug• 28•08

A Health Economics paper by Timothy K. M. Beatty finds that “households who make more frequent, smaller food purchases buy healthier foods than households who make fewer, larger purchases. These households are more likely to purchase foods with a lower share of total calories from fats, saturated fats and a larger share of calories from fruits and vegetables.”

However, I am not exactly sure what this proves. If you want to eat healthy food (fruits and vegetables), you need to shop more frequently since these “healthy” foods tend to spoil more easily than fatty, non-perishable foods (frozen burritos). Further, invidiuduals who live in denser, urban environoments likely 1) live closer to grocery stores and 2) have a social network that values healthy eating. Beatty even admits that “The exact causal relationship between dietary quality and expenditure dispersion is ambiguous.”

It seems more sensible that the desire to eat healthy foods determines shopping habits rather than the converse.

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  1. Phillip M. says:

    It’s amusing that this paper came out when it did, as I’ve been thinking about this fact lately. The wife and I have started to try and eat healthier and are therefore picking up more fresh vegetables and fruit from the local market.

    Like you say, our trips are more frequent now due to the limited shelf-life on those items. Living in a relatively urban area, it’s not too difficult to make frequent grocery runs. I can see this being more painful for rural folks though.

    So I’m in agreement with you. Beatty has the cause and effect swapped.