The Healthfulness of Food-at-Home Expenditures, the Local Food Environment, and Childhood Obesity

Danhong Chen, Edward C. Jaenicke, Richard J. Volpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Despite the growth of food-away-from-home expenditures, food-at-home (FAH) expenditures still constitute the majority of American families’ food dollars. The FAH expenditures may have important impacts on children’s diets and, consequently, their weight statuses. This study examined the association between the composition of FAH expenditures and childhood overweight or obesity. Design: We compiled a longitudinal data set from the 2010 to 2012 IRI Consumer Panel and its associated MedProfiler surveys. Setting: This study took place in the United States. Participants: One thousand seven hundred thirty-one households across the United States, with 2645 children aged 2 to 17, were surveyed over 3 years (2010-2012). Measures: The binary outcome variable indicated whether a child was overweight or obese. The key predictor variable—composition of FAH expenditures—was an index reflecting households’ adherence to expenditure shares for 24 food categories recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Thrifty Food Plans. The key control variables were FAH expenditure shares from different food stores. Analysis: Data were analyzed by multilevel logistic regressions that controlled for a number of individual-level and household-level characteristics. Results: Higher compliance with the USDA Thrifty Food Plans was associated with lower risk of childhood overweight or obesity. Channel expenditure shares were not significantly associated with the weight outcomes. Conclusion: To prevent childhood obesity, the USDA Thrifty Food Plans can provide potential guidelines for households to decide the composition of their FAH expenditures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-419
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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