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Trends in U.S. food prices, 1950-2007


  • Christian, Thomas
  • Rashad, Inas


The potential effect that food prices may have on the health of the U.S. population needs to be further explored, particularly in light of the rising food prices currently being observed. Declining food prices over time have been singled out as a main contributor, for example, to the rising trend in obesity. In this paper we use data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association, the Consumer Expenditure Survey, and the United States Department of Agriculture to analyze trends in various types of food prices, to create a food price index, and to estimate the price of a calorie. Results may be used by future researchers in estimating the health implications of these trends. We find that while the general trend in food prices has been declining, that of restaurant meal prices and prices of fruits and vegetables has risen over time. It is doubtful that the decline in food prices has been sufficiently large to account for the large increase in caloric intake that is said to have contributed to the obesity epidemic in the U.S.

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  • Christian, Thomas & Rashad, Inas, 2009. "Trends in U.S. food prices, 1950-2007," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 113-120, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:7:y:2009:i:1:p:113-120

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ghimire, Ramesh & Ferreira, Susana & Green, Gary T. & Poudyal, Neelam C. & Cordell, H. Ken & Thapa, Janani R., 2017. "Green Space and Adult Obesity in the United States," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 201-212.
    2. Dave, Dhaval M. & Kelly, Inas Rashad, 2012. "How does the business cycle affect eating habits?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 254-262.
    3. Zhao, Zhenxiang & Kaestner, Robert & Xu, Xin, 2014. "Spatial mobility and environmental effects on obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 128-140.
    4. Barbieri, Paolo Nicola, 2015. "Social Distortion in Weight Perception: A Decomposition of the Obesity Epidemic," Working Papers in Economics 639, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    5. Rahkovsky, Ilya & Gregory, Christian A., 2013. "Food prices and blood cholesterol," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 95-107.
    6. Buttet, Sebastien & Dolar, Veronika, 4. "The Price Of One Sweet Calorie," International Journal of Food and Agricultural Economics (IJFAEC), Alanya Alaaddin Keykubat University, Department of Economics and Finance, vol. 3(4).
    7. Buttet, Sebastien & Dolar, Veronika, 2015. "Toward a quantitative theory of food consumption choices and body weight," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 143-156.
    8. Pieroni, L. & Salmasi, L., 2014. "Fast-food consumption and body weight. Evidence from the UK," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 94-105.
    9. Cawley, John, 2015. "An economy of scales: A selective review of obesity's economic causes, consequences, and solutions," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 244-268.
    10. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2012. "Understanding overeating and obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 781-796.
    11. Declerck, Francis, 2014. "Do Agricultural Commodity Firm Stock Price and Agricultural Commodity Price Move Together?," 2014 International European Forum, February 17-21, 2014, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 199388, International European Forum on Innovation and System Dynamics in Food Networks.
    12. Riera-Crichton, Daniel & Tefft, Nathan, 2014. "Macronutrients and obesity: Revisiting the calories in, calories out framework," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 33-49.
    13. Declerck, Francis, 2014. "Do Agricultural Commodity Firm Stock Price and Agricultural Commodity Price Move Together?," International Journal on Food System Dynamics, International Center for Management, Communication, and Research, vol. 5(3).
    14. Partha Deb & Carmen Vargas, 2016. "Who Benefits from Calorie Labeling? An Analysis of its Effects on Body Mass," NBER Working Papers 21992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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