Our researchers produce a range of materials, including papers and briefs, presentations, datasets and survey tools. For additional resources, select the Research tab above.

Disparities in the Availability and Price of Low-Fat and Higher-Fat Milk in U.S. Food Stores by Community Characteristics

Rimkus L, Isgor Z, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Zenk SN, Powell LM, Barker DC and Chaloupka FJ. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2015. [E-pub ahead of print]

Background: National surveillance data identify disparities in low-fat milk consumption by race/ethnicity and income. Some localized studies have shown disparities in access to low-fat milk by community characteristics.

Objective: To assess the availability and price of low-fat and higher-fat milk in food stores throughout the U.S. and examine associations with community characteristics.

Design: Cross-sectional study involving observational data collection in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Participants/settings: 8,959 food stores in 468 communities where nationally representative samples of students attending traditional public middle and high schools resided.

Main outcome measures: Availability and price of whole, 2%, 1% and skim milk.

Statistical analyses performed: Multivariate logistic regression and ordinary least squares regression analyses were performed. Models included store type, race/ethnicity, median household income, urbanicity, U.S. Census division, and year of data collection.

Results: Less than half of all stores carried 1% and skim milk, while more than three-quarters of stores carried whole and 2% milk. Regression results indicated that the odds of carrying any type of milk were 31-67% lower in stores in majority black and 26-45% lower in other/mixed race compared to majority white communities. The odds of carrying specifically low-fat milk were 50-58% lower in majority Hispanic compared to majority white communities, and 32-44% lower in low-income compared to high-income communities. Some significant differences in milk prices by community characteristics were observed in grocery and limited service stores. On average, low-fat milk options were more expensive in grocery stores in majority black and rural and suburban communities compared to such stores in majority white and urban communities.

Conclusions: This is the first nationwide study to examine the availability and price of low-fat milk in food stores and show disparities in access by community characteristics. Policies and programs can play a role in increasing accessibility of low-fat milk in stores in non-white and low-income communities.

Access the full article via PubMed.

Sign Up to Receive News and Updates

Join our mailing list for updates, news and announcements about recent publications and new research. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Join the Email List