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The Costs of Food at Home and Away from Home and Consumption Patterns Among U.S. Adolescents

Powell LM and Han E. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48(1): 20-26, 2011.

Purpose: This study examined the associations of prices of food at home groceries, prices of fast food away from home and the availability of food stores and restaurants with the number of days over the past week that adolescents consumed fruit and fruit juices, vegetables, meat, nonmeat protein, dairy, grains, and sweets.

Methods: Individual-level data on adolescents were drawn from the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics combined at the zip code level with external economic contextual data. Multivariate regression analyses were used to estimate the associations between food consumption categories and the economic contextual factors. Regressions were also estimated by households' poverty status.

Results: Fast food and food at home prices were not significantly associated with any of the food consumption categories in the full sample. However, among poor adolescents, higher fast food prices were associated with higher levels of nonmeat protein consumption. Food store outlet availability was found to have very small significant associations with some food consumption categories but no significant associations were found for restaurant outlets.

Conclusions: Food away from home prices such as fast food prices and supermarket and grocery store availability were associated with some food consumption categories among low-income youths and related policies deserve further examination.

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