University of Wisconsin–Madison
Fast Focus Research/Policy Brief Icon

Local food prices: Effects on child eating patterns, food insecurity, and overweight

Both obesity and food insecurity are important public health problems facing young children in the United States. A lack of affordable, nutritious foods is one of the neighborhood factors presumed to underlie both overweight and under-nutrition among children. Despite the importance of adequate nutrition during early childhood, to date, little research has examined how food prices relate to weight and food insecurity outcomes during early childhood. This study fills these gaps in the literature by estimating how local food prices influence the weight outcomes, food insecurity, and food consumption of children from infancy to 5 years of age. The study found that higher-priced fruits and vegetables are associated with higher standardized measures of children’s BMI; higher-priced soft drinks are associated with a lower likelihood of being overweight; and surprisingly, higher fast food prices are associated with a greater likelihood of being overweight; food prices are largely unassociated with children’s food consumption.


Child Development & Well-Being, Child Poverty, Children, Food & Nutrition, Food Insecurity, Health, Neighborhood Effects, Obesity, Place, Spatial Mismatch