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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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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 7 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 113-120

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:7:y:2009:i:1:p:113-120
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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  1. Huang, Kuo S. & Lin, Biing-Hwan, 2000. "Estimation of Food Demand Nutrient Elasticities from household Survey Data," Technical Bulletins 184370, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  2. Anne O. Krueger, 1988. "The Political Economy of Controls: American Sugar," NBER Working Papers 2504, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," NBER Working Papers 8946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman & Shin-Yi Chou, 2006. "The Super Size of America: An Economic Estimation of Body Mass Index and Obesity in Adults," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 133-148, Winter.
  6. Parke Wilde, . "Federal Communication about Obesity in the Dietary Guidelines and Checkoff Programs," Working Papers in Food Policy and Nutrition 27, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, revised May 2005.
  7. Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Huang, Kuo S. & Lin, Biing-Hwan, 2000. "Estimation Of Food Demand And Nutrient Elasticities From Household Survey Data," Technical Bulletins 33579, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  9. Stewart, Hayden & Blisard, Noel & Jolliffe, Dean, 2006. "Let's Eat Out: Americans Weigh Taste, Convenience, and Nutrition," Economic Information Bulletin 59411, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  10. Tomas Philipson & Richard Posner, 2008. "Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Decade of Research on the Economics of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 14010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Helen H. Jensen, 2002. "Empirical Analysis Using Scanner Data: Econometric Issues and Policy Implications," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(3), pages 824-825.
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