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Food Price Policy Can Favorably Alter Macronutrient Intake in China


Guo, Xuguang; Popkin, Barry M.; Mroz, Thomas A.; & Zhai, Fengying (1999). Food Price Policy Can Favorably Alter Macronutrient Intake in China. Journal of Nutrition, 129(5), 994-1001.


The rapid change in diets, physical activity and body composition in low income countries has led to the coexistence of large pockets of undernutrition and overnutrition. Public health strategies for addressing this situation may be necessary, and price policy options are examined for China. Longitudinal dietary data collected in China in 1989-1993 on a sample of 5625 adults aged 20-45 y were examined. Three-day averages of food group consumption and nutrient intake were used in longitudinal statistical models to examine separately the effects of food prices on the decision to consume each food group and then the amount consumed. The effects of changes in six food prices on the consumption of each of six food groups, not just the food group whose price had changed, and on three macronutrients were estimated. The effects show large and significant price effects. If the joint effects of the nutrition transition are to be considered, then there are clear tradeoffs among which foods to tax and which to subsidize. Most important is the effect of prices in reducing fat intake of the rich but not adversely affecting protein intake for the poor. Increases in the prices of pork, eggs and edible oils are predicted to lower fat intake. Only increases in pork prices led to reduced protein intakes. This raises questions about earlier policy changes being implemented in China and provides insight into an important and controversial area for public health policy.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Nutrition


Guo, Xuguang
Popkin, Barry M.
Mroz, Thomas A.
Zhai, Fengying