Energy Density, Nutrient Adequacy, and Cost per Serving Can Provide Insight into Food Choices in the Lower Mississippi Delta

Carol L. Connell, University of Southern Mississippi
M. Kathleen Yadrick, University of Southern Mississippi
Lashaundrea B. Crook, University of Southern Mississippi


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.