Little racial differences in healthfulness of grocery store food purchases

A chart showing food purchase healthfulness by race, years 1998 to 2006.

Researchers in health, nutrition, and epidemiology have established a causal link between dietary quality and health outcomes, such as obesity, overweight, and diabetes. Additional research has shown that the incidence of these detrimental outcomes can vary substantially across racial and ethnic groups in the United States. ERS researchers examined the healthfulness of grocery purchases as it varies by race in an effort to determine the role that food prepared at home might play in these differences. The healthfulness of household grocery purchases was assessed by using USDA’s Healthy Eating Index. Shopping baskets were assigned scores from 0-100 based on adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The findings demonstrate that the differences across racial groups are small. At-home food purchases were slightly more healthful for Whites (including Hispanics) and Asians than they were for Blacks and people of other races. More importantly, the results show that people of all races have much room for improvement in their dietary quality. This chart appears in the ERS report, Assessing the Healthfulness of Consumers’ Grocery Purchases, EIB-102, November 2012.

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