Publications

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  • Will 2005 Be the Year of the Whole Grain?

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    The 2005 Dietary Guidelines encourage all Americans over age 2 to eat roughly half of their recommended 5 to 10 daily servings of grains, depending on calorie needs. The goal of this new recommendation is to improve Americans' health by raising awareness of whole grains and their role in nutritious diets. The Guidelines could also have big impacts on farmers and farm production.

  • Obesity Policy and the Law of Unintended Consequences

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    The list of policies that could potentially help Americans turn the corner on obesity and overweight is as long as the list of factors that influence an individual’s diet and lifestyle choices. The list of unintended consequences stemming from obesity policy is probably longer.

  • Nutrition Labeling in the Food-Away-From-Home Sector: An Economic Assessment

    ERR-4, April 27, 2005

    Americans spent about 46 percent of their total food budget on food away from home in 2002, up from 27 percent in 1962. Such foods tend to be less nutritious and higher in calories than foods prepared at home, and some studies have linked eating away from home to overweight and obesity in adults and children. Current nutrition labeling law exempts much of the food-away-from-home sector from mandatory labeling regulations. Because consumers are less likely to be aware of the ingredients and nutrient content of away-from-home food than of foods prepared at home, public health advocates have called for mandatory nutrition labeling for major sources of food away from home, such as fast-food and chain restaurants. This report provides an economic assessment of a food-away-from-home nutrition labeling policy, including justifications for policy intervention and potential costs and benefits of the policy.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Body Weight Status

    AIB-796-3, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several measures of body weight status for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor the weight status of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Meal Patterns, Milk and Soft Drink Consumption, and Supplement Use

    AIB-796-4, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several eating behaviors for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor eating behaviors of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Clinic Measures of Iron, Folate, Vitamin B12, Cholesterol, Bone Density, and Lead Poisoning

    AIB-796-5, February 14, 2005

    The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined several eating behaviors for children and adults using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. This summary focuses on the nutritional biochemistry blood tests and bone density measures that showed differences between income groups. The measures provide a baseline to monitor eating behaviors of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Healthy Eating Index

    AIB-796-1, February 14, 2005

    The Healthy Eating Index measures how well American diets conform to recommended healthy eating patterns, looking at 10 dietary components. The Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations study examined the Healthy Eating Index using 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) data. The measures provide a baseline to monitor the dietary quality of Americans, focusing on the low-income population.

  • The Role of Economics in Eating Choices and Weight Outcomes

    AIB-791, October 28, 2004

    This report uses data from the USDA's 1994-96 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals and the 1994-96 Diet and Health Knowledge Survey to ascertain whether economic factors help explain weight differences among adults. Weight differs among demographic subgroups, and differences in specific behaviors, health awareness, and eating patterns can be linked to weight outcomes. An economic framework helps explain how socioeconomic factors affect an individual's ability to achieve good health. Our results suggest that income, household composition, and formal education help explain variation in behaviors and attitudes that are significantly associated with weight outcomes.

  • How Expensive Are Fruits and Vegetables Anyway?

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2004

    Almost half of Americans think eating more fruits and vegetables would improve their diets, so why don’t they? One argument is that produce is expensive. Yet an ERS study finds that consumers can eat three servings of fruit and four servings of vegetables for 64 cents a day, which represents 12 percent of daily food expenditures per person.

  • Current Issues in Economics of Food Markets

    AIB-747, August 13, 2004

    These reports synthesize economic analyses of the complex relationships in food markets of interest to officials responsible for public policy, decisionmakers in the industry, and researchers. Topics addressed so far include the economizing practices of low-income households in making food purchases, the increasing vertical coordination and integration of the industry, the link between consolidation of retailers and orange juice prices, the effects of a higher minimum wage on food prices, how taxes affect food markets, and lessons learned from the use of rbST in dairy production.

  • Meat and Poultry Plants' Food Safety Investments: Survey Findings

    TB-1911, May 14, 2004

    A national survey of meat slaughter and processing plants indicates that market forces, in conjunction with regulation, have worked to promote the use of more sophisticated food safety technologies.

  • The Economics of Obesity: A Report on the Workshop Held at USDA's Economic Research Service

    EFAN-04004, May 13, 2004

    Since the mid-1970s, the prevalence of obesity and overweight has increased dramatically in the United States. The prevalence of overweight has tripled among children and adolescents, and nearly two out of three adult Americans are either overweight or obese. Although high health, social, and economic costs are known to be associated with obesity, the underlying causes of weight gain are less understood. At a basic level, weight gain and obesity are the result of individual choices. Consequently, economics, as a discipline that studies how individuals use limited resources to attain alternative ends, can provide unique insight into the actions and forces that cause individuals to gain excessive weight. In April 2003, USDA's Economic Research Service and the University of Chicago's Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies and the George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State jointly hosted a workshop on the Economics of Obesity. The purpose was to provide an overview of leading health economics research on the causes and consequences of rising obesity in the United States. Topics included the role of technological change in explaining both the long- and short-term trends in obesity, the role of maternal employment in child obesity, the impact of obesity on wages and health insurance, behavioral economics as applied to obesity, and the challenges in measuring energy intakes and physical activity. The workshop also discussed policy implications and future directions for obesity research. This report presents a summary of the papers and the discussions presented at the workshop.

  • Food Safety Innovation in the United States: Evidence from the Meat Industry

    AER-831, April 01, 2004

    Recent industry innovations improving the safety of the Nation's meat supply include new pathogen tests, high-tech equipment, supply chain management systems, and surveillance networks.

  • Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling--Will It Benefit Consumers?

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2004

    Proponents of country-of-origin food labels claim such labels would benefit consumers who are concerned about food safety, who wish to support U.S. producers, or who believe that U.S. foods are of higher quality than imports. Others argue that mandatory labeling will merely raise costs and bring few benefits.

  • Traceability in the U.S. Food Supply: Economic Theory and Industry Studies

    AER-830, March 18, 2004

    This investigation into the traceability baseline in the United States finds that private sector food firms have developed a substantial capacity to trace.

  • Food Safety and International Trade: Theoretical Issues

    AIB-789-2, February 28, 2004

    This research brief examines the conceptual relationships between food safety and international trade.

  • Seafood Safety and Trade

    AIB-789-7, February 28, 2004

    This research summarizes three case studies of how trade in seafood products can be affected by food safety concerns.

  • Response to U.S. Foodborne Illness Outbreaks Associated with Imported Produce

    AIB-789-5, February 28, 2004

    This report examines how U.S. and other nations responded to foodborne illness outbreaks traced to internationally-traded food.

  • Mycotoxin Regulations: Implications for International Agricultural Trade

    AIB-789-6, February 28, 2004

    This research brief discusses regulations intended to control mycotoxins in the food supply, and examines their implications for international trade.

  • Food Safety and International Trade

    AIB-789-1, February 28, 2004

    This research brief presents some of the highlights of the ERS report, "International Trade and Food Safety: Economic Theory and Case Studies."