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Choice architecture to promote fruit and vegetable purchases by families participating in the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): randomized corner store pilot study

  • Anne N Thorndike (a1) (a2), Oliver-John M Bright (a1), Melissa A Dimond (a3), Ronald Fishman (a3) and Douglas E Levy (a2) (a4)...

Abstract

Objective

To conduct a pilot study to determine if improving the visibility and quality of fresh produce (choice architecture) in corner stores would increase fruit/vegetable purchases by families participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Design

Six stores were randomly assigned to choice architecture intervention or control. Store-level WIC sales data were provided by the state. Primary outcomes were WIC fruit/vegetable voucher and non-fruit/vegetable voucher sales, comparing trends from baseline (December 2012–October 2013) with the five-month intervention period (December 2013–April 2014). Secondary outcomes were differences in customer self-reported fruit/vegetable purchases between baseline and end of the intervention.

Setting

Chelsea, MA, USA, a low-income urban community.

Subjects

Adult customers (n 575) completing store exit interviews.

Results

During baseline, WIC fruit/vegetable and non-fruit/vegetable sales decreased in both intervention and control stores by $US 16/month. During the intervention period, WIC fruit/vegetable sales increased in intervention stores by $US 40/month but decreased in control stores by $US 23/month (difference in trends: $US 63/month; 95 % CI 4, 121 $US/month; P=0·036); WIC non-fruit/vegetable sales were not different (P=0·45). Comparing baseline and intervention-period exit interview responses by customers participating in WIC (n 134), intervention store customers reported increased fruit/vegetable purchases compared with control store customers (18 v. −2 %), but this did not achieve statistical significance (P=0·11).

Conclusions

Placement of fruits/vegetables near the front of corner stores increased purchase of produce by customers using WIC. New policies that incentivize stores to stock and prominently display good-quality produce could promote healthier food choices of low-income families.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Email athorndike@mgh.harvard.edu

References

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Keywords

Choice architecture to promote fruit and vegetable purchases by families participating in the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): randomized corner store pilot study

  • Anne N Thorndike (a1) (a2), Oliver-John M Bright (a1), Melissa A Dimond (a3), Ronald Fishman (a3) and Douglas E Levy (a2) (a4)...

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