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Influence of price discounts and skill-building strategies on purchase and consumption of healthy food and beverages: outcomes of the Supermarket Healthy Eating for Life randomized controlled trial

BACKGROUND: Fiscal strategies are increasingly considered upstream nutrition promotion measures. However, few trials have investigated the effectiveness or cost effectiveness of pricing manipulations on diet in real-world settings. OBJECTIVE: We assessed the effects on fruit, vegetable, and beverage purchasing and consumption of a 20% price-reduction intervention, a tailored skills-based behavior-change intervention, and a combined intervention compared with a control condition. DESIGN: The Supermarket Healthy Eating for Life trial was a randomized controlled trial conducted over 3 mo [baseline (time 1) to postintervention (time 2) with a 6-mo follow-up (time 3)]. Female primary household shoppers in Melbourne, Australia, were randomly assigned to a 1) skill-building (n = 160), 2) price-reduction (n = 161), 3) combined skill-building and price-reduction (n = 160), or 4) control (n = 161) group. Supermarket transaction data and surveys were used to measure the following study outcomes: fruit, vegetable, and beverage purchases and self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption at each time point. RESULTS: At 3 mo (time 2), price reduction-alone participants purchased more total vegetables and frozen vegetables than did controls. Price reduction-alone and price reduction-plus-skill-building participants purchased more fruit than did controls. Relative to controls, in the price-reduction group, total vegetable consumption increased by 233 g/wk (3.1 servings or 15% more than at baseline), and fruit purchases increased by 364 g/wk (2.4 servings; 35% more than at baseline). Increases were not maintained 6 mo postintervention (time 3). Price reduction-alone participants showed a tendency for a slight increase in fruit consumption at time 2 (P = 0.09) that was maintained at time 3 (P = 0.014). No intervention improved purchases of bottled water or low-calorie beverages. CONCLUSIONS: A 20% price reduction in fruit and vegetables resulted in increased purchasing per household of 35% for fruit and 15% for vegetables over the price-reduction period. These findings show that price modifications can directly increase produce purchases. The Supermarket Healthy Eating for Life trial was registered at Current Controlled Trials Registration as ISRCTN39432901.



American journal of clinical nutrition






1055 - 1064


American Society for Nutrition


Bethesda, Md.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, American Society for Nutrition