|Health Factors:||Diet & Exercise|
|Decision Makers:||Educators Employers & Businesses Local Government State Government Federal Government|
|Population Reach:||10-19% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
Is this program or policy in use in your community? Tell us about it.
Competitive pricing assigns higher costs to non-nutritious foods relative to nutritious foods. Competitive pricing can be implemented in various settings, including schools, worksites, grocery stores or other food retail outlets, cafeterias, and vending machines. Competitive pricing can take the form of incentives, subsidies, or price discounts for healthy foods and beverages and/or disincentives or price increases for unhealthy foods and beverages.
There is strong evidence that competitive pricing increases sales of low fat foods, fruits, vegetables, and water (Fox 2005a, French 2001, Jaime 2009, Kim 2006, Kocken 2012, An 2013, AHA-Mozaffarian 2012). Price discounts or subsidies for healthier foods have also been shown to increase healthier food consumption (An 2013, AHA-Mozaffarian 2012).
Pricing affects individual behavior; adults and teenagers have been shown to purchase items that are lower in cost, whether those items are healthy or unhealthy (French 2001). Reductions in the price of low fat snacks, fruits, and vegetables increase sales of these products (Fox 2005a, Jaime 2009, Kim 2006, Kocken 2012, An 2013). Effect sizes tend to be proportional; larger price differences between lower cost healthy foods and higher cost unhealthy foods are linked to greater improvements in healthy food consumption (AHA-Mozaffarian 2012).
Preliminary evidence from price discount interventions suggests that the demand for healthy foods such as fruits and low fat snacks are price elastic, which means a 1% price decrease is associated with more than a 1% increase in quantity demanded (An 2013). In some studies, positive behavior changes following subsidies that reduce the price of fruits and vegetables were sustained several months after subsidies ended. Other studies suggest that lower income populations may be more sensitive to prices than higher income populations, and youth more sensitive than adults (AHA-Mozaffarian 2012).
Lowering the price of healthy foods or raising the price of unhealthy foods has not been shown to significantly decrease revenue in school settings (Fox 2009, Kim 2006, Kocken 2012).
Many schools have implemented competitive pricing in their cafeterias and vending machines, for example, North Community High School in Minneapolis, MN, Vista High School in Vista, CA, the Fayette County Public School District in Lexington, KY (Fox 2005a), Marshall County Schools in AL, and Boston Public Schools (IPHI-HCFS).
Workplace wellness policies often include competitive pricing strategies in vending machines and cafeterias. For example, in Michigan and North Dakota, worksite wellness guides encourage large and small workplaces to adopt competitive pricing for healthy foods (MI DCH-WW guide 2008, ND WW-Resources).
A number of Wisconsin school districts restrict or increase prices on non-nutritious foods, including Lac du Flambeau, Appleton, Marshfield, Platteville, and Middleton-Cross Plains (Fox 2005a).
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