Fast food consumption is a dietary factor associated with higher prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States. The association between food prices and consumption of fast food among 5th and 8th graders was examined using individual-level random effects models utilizing consumption data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K), price data from American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association (ACCRA), and contextual outlet density data from Dun and Bradstreet (D&B). The results found that contextual factors including the price of fast food, median household income, and fast food restaurant outlet densities were significantly associated with fast food consumption patterns among this age group. Overall, a 10% increase in the price of fast food was associated with 5.7% lower frequency of weekly fast food consumption. These results suggest that public health policy pricing instruments such as taxes may be effective in reducing consumption of energy-dense foods and possibly reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity among US children and young adolescents.
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