The relative price of fruits and vegetables (F&V) is high, making purchasing of these healthy foods an economic hardship for many shoppers. Government subsidies coupled with public-sector and private-sector initiatives to incentivize the purchasing of F&V have recently been proposed. It would be difficult, however, to determine a reasonable and appropriate pricing of F&V, without first experimentally assessing the impact of price reduction on consumer demand, consumption, and profitability. The proposed study examines the main and sustained effects of 50%, 25%, and 12.5% discounts, versus 0% discount, on purchasing of F&V by overweight and obese (25 < BMI ? 40) shoppers in six stores of a Manhattan supermarket chain. Recruitment will be for 400 shoppers from within these stores to obtain an estimated 300 completers. After a 4-week baseline period (no discounts), participants will be randomly assigned to receive a 50%, 25%, 12.5%, or 0% discount during a 32-week intervention period, with a 16-week follow-up period (no discounts). The discounts will be automatically activated after 4 weeks through the participant's loyalty scan card, which will also track all purchases. The primary aims are to measure the effects of the four discount levels on purchasing and consumption of F&V during the intervention period and the health outcomes at the end of the intervention period. Additionally, a primary aim is to measure the sustained effects of the discounts on these outcomes during the follow-up period. It is expected that the larger the discount on F&V, the greater the increase in purchasing and consumption of F&V, especially for those with relatively low incomes. These increases in F&V purchasing and consumption are expected to lead to improved health outcomes, such as weight and fat loss as well as reduced cardio metabolic risk factors. Demand curves for purchasing and consumption of F&V will be drawn for all the discount levels to help select optimal discount levels. The study findings should help to inform government policymakers on the appropriate subsidies to consider for promoting healthy food choices.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed study examines the effects of a 50%, 25%, and 12.5% discount versus a no-discount control, applied to fruits and vegetables in several Manhattan supermarkets. Overweight participants (BMI 25 to 40), who stand to benefit the most from dietary changes, will be recruited from the supermarkets' existing customers. We expect that the greater the discounts, the greater the increase in purchasing and consumption of fruits and vegetables. These changes in purchasing and consumption are expected in turn to decrease overall dietary energy intake (kcal) and to lead to improved health, including reduced body weight and fat.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section (CLHP)
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Kuczmarski, Robert J
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Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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Bernales-Korins, Maria; Ang, Ian Yi Han; Khan, Shamima et al. (2017) Psychosocial Influences on Fruit and Vegetable Intake Following a NYC Supermarket Discount. Obesity (Silver Spring) 25:1321-1328