Energy Density, Nutrient Adequacy, and Cost per Serving Can Provide Insight into Food Choices in the Lower Mississippi Delta
Objective: To compare differences across food groups for food cost, energy, and nutrient profiles of 100 items from a cross-sectional survey of 225 stores in 18 counties across the Lower Mississippi Delta of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Methods: Energy, nutrient, and cost profiles for food items were calculated by using Naturally Nutrient Rich methodology and converting price per 100 g edible portion to price per serving. Foods were grouped into 6 food groups. Mean differences were compared with ANOVA. Results: Significant differences existed by food group for each measure. Energy density was highest for fats/oils/sweets, whereas nutrient density was highest for vegetables. Price per serving was lowest for fats/oils/sweets and highest for meats. Conclusions and Implications: Educational messages focusing on a complete diet should consider the role of food costs and provide specific recommendations for increasing nutrient-dense foods by replacing a portion of the meat serving at meals with culturally acceptable lower-cost nutrient-dense foods.