Price discounts significantly enhance fruit and vegetable purchases when combined with nutrition education: a randomized controlled supermarket trial

W.E. Waterlander, M.R. de Boer, A.J. Schuit, J.C. Seidell, I.H.M. Steenhuis

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Reducing fruit and vegetable (F&V) prices is a frequently considered policy to improve dietary habits in the context of health promotion. However, evidence on the effectiveness of this intervention is limited. Objective: The objective was to examine the effects of a 50% price discount on F&Vs or nutrition education or a combination of both on supermarket purchases. Design: A 6-mo randomized controlled trial within Dutch supermarkets was conducted. Regular supermarket shoppers were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 conditions: 50% price discounts on F&Vs, nutrition education, 50% price discounts plus nutrition education, or no intervention. A total of 199 participants provided baseline data; 151 (76%) were included in the final analysis. F&V purchases were measured by using supermarket register receipts at baseline, at 1 mo after the start of the intervention, at 3 mo, at 6 mo (end of the intervention period), and 3 mo after the intervention ended (9 mo). Results: Adjusted multilevel models showed significantly higher F&V purchases (per household/2 wk) as a result of the price discount (+3.9 kg; 95% CI: 1.5, 6.3 kg) and the discount plus education intervention (+5.6 kg; 95% CI: 3.2, 7.9 kg) at 6 mo compared with control. Moreover, the percentage of participants who consumed recommended amounts of F&Vs (≥400 g/d) increased from 42.5% at baseline to 61.3% at 6 mo in both discount groups (P = 0.03). Education alone had no significant effect. Conclusions: Discounting F&Vs is a promising intervention strategy because it resulted in substantially higher F&V purchases, and no adverse effects were observed. Therefore, pricing strategies form an important focus for future interventions or policy. However, the long-term effects and the ultimate health outcomes require further investigation. This trial was registered at the ISRCTN Trial Register as number ISRCTN56596945 and at the Dutch Trial Register (http://www.trialregister.nl/trialreg/index.asp) as number NL22568.029.08. Copyright © 2013 American Society for Nutrition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)886-895
JournalThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume97
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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