The increasing incidence of nutrition-related chronic diseases worldwide has raised people's awareness of dietary quality. Most existing studies on the topic of changing nutrition patterns measure dietary quality by single macronutrient indicators or anthropometric outcomes. However, such an approach is often too narrow to provide a picture of overall dietary quality and is sometimes even misleading. This study contributes to the existing literature by taking into account that the analysis of dietary quality comprises two dimensions: the adequate intake of vitamins and minerals, as well as the moderate intake of nutrients that increase the risk of chronic diseases. Thereby, we apply Grossman's health investment model to the analysis of the demand for dietary quality, explicitly addressing the different dimensions of dietary quality and the intertemporal character of health investments. We apply our approach to Russia using data from the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey from 1996 to 2008. Our results show that intake levels of vitamins and minerals as well as saturated and total fatty acids increased after 1998 along with economic recovery, while the intake of fiber decreased. Our econometric results imply an income elasticity of vitamins and minerals of 0.051, and an income elasticity of fats of 0.073. Overall, our results are in line with an ongoing nutrition transition in the Russian Federation, which is marked by decreasing deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, as well as the increasing consumption of fats with its accompanying negative health consequences.
This study uses individual-level longitudinal data from Iceland, a country that experienced a severe economic crisis in 2008 and substantial recovery by 2012, to investigate the extent to which the effects of a recession on health behaviors are lingering or short-lived and to explore trajectories in health behaviors from pre-crisis boom, to crisis, to recovery. Health-compromising behaviors (smoking, heavy drinking, sugared soft drinks, sweets, fast food, and tanning) declined during the crisis, and all but sweets continued to decline during the recovery. Health-promoting behaviors (consumption of fruit, fish oil, and vitamins/minerals and getting recommended sleep) followed more idiosyncratic paths. Overall, most behaviors reverted back to their pre-crisis levels or trends during the recovery, and these short-term deviations in trajectories were probably too short-lived in this recession to have major impacts on health or mortality. A notable exception is for binge drinking, which declined by 10% during the 2 crisis years, continued to fall (at a slower rate of 8%) during the 3 recovery years, and did not revert back to the upward pre-crisis trend during our observation period. These lingering effects, which directionally run counter to the pre-crisis upward trend in consumption and do not reflect price increases during the recovery period, suggest that alcohol is a potential pathway by which recessions improve health and/or reduce mortality.