A Health Economics paper by Timothy K. M. Beatty finds that “households who make more frequent, smaller food purchases buy healthier foods than households who make fewer, larger purchases. These households are more likely to purchase foods with a lower share of total calories from fats, saturated fats and a larger share of calories from fruits and vegetables.”
However, I am not exactly sure what this proves. If you want to eat healthy food (fruits and vegetables), you need to shop more frequently since these “healthy” foods tend to spoil more easily than fatty, non-perishable foods (frozen burritos). Further, invidiuduals who live in denser, urban environoments likely 1) live closer to grocery stores and 2) have a social network that values healthy eating. Beatty even admits that “The exact causal relationship between dietary quality and expenditure dispersion is ambiguous.”
It seems more sensible that the desire to eat healthy foods determines shopping habits rather than the converse.
- Timothy K. M. Beatty (2008) “Expenditure dispersion and dietary quality: evidence from Canada” Health Economics, Volume 17, Issue 9 (p 1001-1014)