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Is Diet Quality Improving? Distributional Changes in the United States, 1989-2008

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  • Timothy K. M. Beatty
  • Biing-Hwan Lin
  • Travis A. Smith

Abstract

This article measures changes in the distribution of dietary quality among adults in the United States over the period 1989-2008. Diet quality is a direct input to health, is often used as a proxy for well-being, and is an outcome variable for a wide variety of economic interventions. For the population as a whole, we find significant improvements across all levels of diet quality. Further, we find improvements for both low-income and higher-income individuals alike. Counterfactual distributions of dietary quality are constructed to investigate the extent to which observed improvements can be attributed to changes in the nutritional content of foods and to changes in population characteristics. We find that 63% of the improvement for all adults can be attributed to changes in food formulation and demographics. Changes in food formulation account for a substantially larger percentage of the dietary improvement within the lower-income population (19.6%) vs. the higher-income population (6.4%).

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy K. M. Beatty & Biing-Hwan Lin & Travis A. Smith, 2014. "Is Diet Quality Improving? Distributional Changes in the United States, 1989-2008," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 96(3), pages 769-789.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:96:y:2014:i:3:p:769-789.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/ajae/aat104
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    1. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:207-217 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Smith, Travis A. & Lin, Biing-Hwan & Coats, Ellen, 2015. "The Evolving Role of Food Sourced Outside the Home on Diets in the U.S.: 1977-2010," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205770, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. repec:oup:ajagec:v:99:y:2017:i:2:p:339-356. is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Rachel Griffith & Martin O'Connell & Kate Smith, 2016. "Shopping Around: How Households Adjusted Food Spending Over the Great Recession," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(330), pages 247-280, April.

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