Food Expenditures and Food Purchasing Among Low-Income, Urban, African-American Youth

In this study, researchers examined the food-buying behavior of lower-income African-American youth and found that youth make frequent and unhealthy food purchases.

Patterns of food purchasing likely contribute to the higher rates of obesity among lower-income, African-American youth as compared to higher-income White youth. To examine this issue, the authors recruited 242 youth ages 10 to 14 years from recreation centers in lower-income Baltimore, Md. neighborhoods. On a questionnaire, the youth reported the cost, money source, place of purchase and frequency of purchase for 29 foods and beverages.

Youth spent an average of $3.69 a day on food, most frequently in corner stores and fast food establishments, an average of twice per week. They most often bought chips, candy and soda, and older youth spent more money than their younger counterparts. Youth who spent more money, and youth with younger caregivers, bought food more often. Almost half of the youth in the sample were overweight or obese.

The authors recommend that interventions to improve youth food purchasing focus on increased access to healthy food in their neighborhoods, especially in corner stores. They also suggest that further research address the timing and portion size of youth food purchases.