Chronic Disease, Prescription Medications, and Food Purchases

Am J Health Promot. 2018 May;32(4):916-924. doi: 10.1177/0890117117740935. Epub 2017 Dec 28.


Purpose: Diet-related chronic diseases like diabetes can be dangerous and expensive to treat, especially for patients who do not follow a recommended diet. Meanwhile, prescription drugs can alleviate the symptoms of or control many diet-related chronic diseases, but these drugs may also weaken the resolve to follow recommended diets (moral hazard).

Design: We measure the effect of a diagnosis of chronic disease and subsequent pharmacological treatment on the dietary quality of food purchases using a large panel data set of US consumers. We estimate the effect of prescription drug utilization on food purchases for the following chronic diseases: type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity.

Participants: Panelists of the Information Resources, Inc consumer panel.

Measures: Dietary quality is measured as purchases of (1) food groups (ie, fruit, vegetables, and sweets) and (2) nutrients (ie, saturated fat, fiber, sodium, sugar, and total calories).

Analysis: Linear regression with mixed effects on pooled panel (household random effects, city fixed effects).

Results/conclusion: We do not find strong effects of either diagnosis or pharmacological treatment of diet-related disease on food purchases.

Keywords: chronic disease; diet; drugs; food purchases; moral hazard.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Diet, Healthy / psychology
  • Diet, Healthy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Food / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Prescription Drugs / therapeutic use*


  • Prescription Drugs