Buying Food on Sale: A Mixed Methods Study With Shoppers at an Urban Supermarket, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2010–2012
Published Date:Sep 04 2014
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 11.
The obesity epidemic has drawn attention to food marketing practices that may increase the likelihood of caloric overconsumption and weight gain. We explored the associations of discounted prices on supermarket purchases of selected high-calorie foods (HCF) and more healthful, low-calorie foods (LCF) by a demographic group at high risk of obesity.
Our mixed methods design used electronic supermarket purchase data from 82 low-income (primarily African American female) shoppers for households with children and qualitative data from focus groups with demographically similar shoppers.
In analyses of 6,493 food purchase transactions over 65 weeks, the odds of buying foods on sale versus at full price were higher for grain-based snacks, sweet snacks, and sugar-sweetened beverages (odds ratios: 6.6, 5.9, and 2.6, respectively; all P < .001) but not for savory snacks. The odds of buying foods on sale versus full price were not higher for any of any of the LCF (P ≥ .07). Without controlling for quantities purchased, we found that spending increased as percentage saved from the full price increased for all HCF and for fruits and vegetables (P ≤ .002). Focus group participants emphasized the lure of sale items and took advantage of sales to stock up.
Strategies that shift supermarket sales promotions from price reductions for HCF to price reductions for LCF might help prevent obesity by decreasing purchases of HCF.
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