Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Energy density, nutrient adequacy, and cost per serving can provide insight into food choices in the lower Mississippi delta.

item Connell, Carol
item Zoellner, Jamie
item Yadrick, M. Kathleen
item Chekuri, Srinivasa
item Crook, Lashaundrea
item Bogle, Margaret

Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/14/2011
Publication Date: 3/1/2012
Citation: Connell, C.L., Zoellner, J.M., Yadrick, M., Chekuri, S.C., Crook, L.B., Bogle, M.L. 2012. Energy density, nutrient adequacy, and cost per serving can provide insight into food choices in the lower Mississippi Delta. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 44(2):148-153.

Interpretive Summary: It is important to understand relationships between the cost per serving of foods and their nutrient quality so that barriers to adopting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid can be identified. Then nutrition educators can begin to develop the most appropriate ways to encourage people to follow the Dietary Guidelines. This is especially important for low-income, rural populations such as the Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD) region. In this study we determined the energy density, nutrient density, nutrient adequacy, price per serving and nutrient-to-price ratio for 100 foods surveyed across 225 food stores in the LMD. Foods were grouped into one of the six pyramid groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meats, discretionary foods/oils) and mean food group differences among indices were statistically compared. Significant differences by pyramid group were noted for each measure of nutrient quality and for each measure of food cost. Energy density was highest for discretionary foods/oils while nutrient density and nutrient adequacy were highest for vegetables. Cost per serving was lowest for discretionary foods/oils and highest for meats. Grains were also significantly lower in cost per serving than meats, fruits and vegetables, but had the highest nutrient-to-price ratio among the six pyramid groups, meaning they were an economical way to acquire important vitamins and minerals. Food intake data from residents of the LMD reflect higher consumption of low cost energy dense foods. We conclude that grains could replace energy dense foods currently consumed by residents of the LMD with relatively little impact on diet cost. However, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables without a decrease in meat consumption will likely raise diet cost. Cultural food preferences will need to be considered when designing nutrition education programs to improve diet quality in this low-income population.

Technical Abstract: Compare differences across food groups for food cost, energy and nutrient profiles of 100 items from a cross-sectional survey of 225 stores in a representative sample of 18 counties across the [Blinded for Review]. Energy, nutrient, and cost profiles for food items were calculated using Naturally Nutrient Rich methodology and converting price/100g edible portion to price per serving. Foods were grouped into one of six food groups. Mean differences among indices were compared with ANOVA. Significant differences existed by food group for each index. Energy density was highest for fats/oils/sweets while nutrient density was highest for vegetables. Price per serving was lowest for fats/oils/sweets and highest for meats. Educational messages focusing on a complete diet should consider the role of food costs and provide specific recommendations for increasing nutrient dense foods by replacing a portion of the meat serving at meals with culturally acceptable lower cost nutrient dense foods.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page