Coupons for Fruit? Nah, Just Junk Food

I never clip coupons, mostly because they're usually for Fritos or Gatorade or Cheezits, things I try not to buy.  Big chains use them to lure you into the store, offering discounts mostly on processed food and snacks, according to The Washington Post's Lenny Bernstein.

"When researchers looked at 1,056 coupons available online for supermarkets nationwide , they found that the largest share (25 percent) were for 'processed snack foods, candies and desserts,'" he notes.  Another 14 percent offered price breaks on prepared meals, 11 percent were for cereals, and 12 percent were for beverages, more than half of which were sodas, juices and energy or sports drinks.
Just 3 percent offered discounts on vegetables, 1 percent were for unprocessed meats, and fewer than 1 percent provided breaks on fruit prices. And those fruits were canned, not fresh. 

If stores make “the unhealthier option less expensive and easier to purchase, we can’t be surprised when [people] purchase it,” he quotes Andrea Lopez, a research analyst at theUniversity of California-San Francisco School of Medicine, who  helped conduct the study. 

But a small company is trying to do that, Bernstein writes. The marketing company Linkwell Health says that in a recent experiment it was able to push people out of the prepared food aisles and toward the fruits and vegetables.

How? 

Linkwell sent coupons, recipes and information on healthful diets to 24,000 people enrolled in a health insurance plan (which its report doesn’t name), Bernstein reports. The recipients were people with chronic health problems such as Type 2 diabetes that are, in part, associated with poor diets.

The company said it found that it was able to improve purchases of nutritious food such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats and seafood by 4.5 percent in 2012 over 2011. "Not a huge gain, but certainly one that might be worth trying, since supermarkets sent out 305 billion coupons that year anyway," Bernstein adds.



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