IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

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


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


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.

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    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.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:96:y:2014:i:3:p:769-789.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.