New research: When healthy food is affordable, people eat more

New research: When healthy food is affordable people eat more


New research: When healthy food is affordable, people eat more

March 17, 2017
Woman Buys Carrots at Farmers Market
Photo Credit: Jameel Khaja

New research published this month offers additional evidence that Wholesome Wave’s SNAP-doubling program is precisely what we created it to be: an effective way to encourage healthy eating. The new study compares data from more than 30 research projects that dealt with the impact of price on consumer choice.  

The verdict? Making healthy choices cheaper is one of the best way to increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods, compared to other interventions. Specifically, the study determined that a 10% drop in price resulted in a 14% increase in fruit and vegetable consumption and a 16% increase in eating healthy foods. That’s great news. 

Programs within our National Nutrition Incentive Network give SNAP recipients the ability to increase their purchasing power by far more than that—40 to 100% when they use buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Our discounts are many time higher than those in the study, so it is reasonable to conclude that increased discounts on healthy produce would result in shoppers eating even more of it. 

To determine the most impactful way to improve SNAP shoppers’ diets, we are currently conducting a research project of our own, parsing data from SNAP-doubling programs across the country. Our goal is to determine what level of SNAP incentives results in the biggest percentage gain in healthy food consumption and purchasing, which will allow communities to invest more efficiently and effectively. We’ll keep you posted on those studies, too. But all in, we’re seeing the very idea on which Wholesome Wave was founded: That when people can’t afford produce, they can’t buy it. And when they can afford it, they do.