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Are Housing Prices Associated with Food Consumption?

Wong ES, Oddo VM, Jones-Smith JC. Are Housing Prices Associated with Food Consumption? International journal of environmental research and public health. 2020 May 30; 17(11).

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OBJECTIVE: Since January 2010, the U.S. has experienced economic recovery, including a 39% increase in home prices nationally. While higher home prices represent a wealth increase for some homeowners, it may decrease real purchasing power for others. The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between local area housing values and consumption of four food categories. DESIGN: Observational study using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System between 2011 and 2015. Outcomes included number of times per week food was consumed and binary measures denoting consumption 2 times per day for four categories: vegetables, fruit, legumes and fruit juice. The primary explanatory variables were metropolitan/micropolitan statistical area home and rental price indices from Zillow. Differential associations by home ownership, age, race/ethnicity and education were examined. RESULTS: Overall, housing values were not associated with intake of vegetables or fruit juice. Among homeowners, a $10,000 increase in home price was associated with small, but statistically significant reductions in fruit and legume consumption. These inverse associations were pronounced among Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black adults. CONCLUSIONS: Lower fruit and legume consumption associated with greater housing values may represent one of several explanations including a decrease in purchasing power, given increases in home prices and limited wage growth since 2010.

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