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Changes in Household Diet: Determinants and Predictability -- by Stefan Hut, Emily Oster

We use grocery purchase data to analyze dietary changes. We show that households - including those with more income or education - do not improve diet in response to disease diagnosis or changes in household circumstances. We then identify households who show large improvements in diet quality. We use machine learning to predict these households and find (1) concentration of baseline diet in a small number of foods is a predictor of improvement and (2) dietary changes are concentrated in a small number of foods. We argue these patterns may be well fit by a model which incorporates attention costs.
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