Higher Child BMI in Areas With Higher-Priced Fruits, Vegetables

Higher food prices not associated with food insecurity

FRIDAY, Feb. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Children living in areas where fresh fruits and vegetables are more expensive have higher body mass indexes (BMIs), according to a study published online Feb. 10 in Pediatrics.

Taryn W. Morrissey, Ph.D., from the American University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues linked data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (covering children up to 5 years old) and the Council for Community and Economic Research (for local food prices). The effect of variability of food prices on BMI was analyzed for households under 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

The researchers found that children living in areas with higher-priced fruits and vegetables had higher BMIs, which was driven by changes in the prices of fresh fruits and vegetables rather than frozen or canned. Higher-priced fruits and vegetables were not associated with food insecurity. A $0.24 increase in prices was associated with an 0.088 to 0.107 increase in the BMI z score. Higher soft drink prices were associated with a lower risk of being overweight, while higher fast food prices were associated with a greater risk of being overweight.

"Policies that reduce the costs of fresh fruits and vegetables may be effective in promoting healthy weight outcomes among young children," Morrissey and colleagues conclude.

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