Cost-benefit analysis conducted for nutrition education in California
Amy B. Joy, Department of Nutrition, UC Davis
Vijay Pradhan, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley
George E. Goldman, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley
California Agriculture 60(4):185-191. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v060n04p185.
Documenting the cost-effectiveness of nutrition education programs is important to justify and determine expenditures and ensure continued funding. A cost-benefit analysis was conducted using the program demographics and food-related dietary behavior of participants enrolled in California's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), based on methodology developed by Virginia Cooperative Extension. The initial benefit-cost ratio for nutrition education in California was 14.67 to 1.00. Several sensitivity analyses were done to estimate the effect of changes in key variables. The resulting benefit-cost ratios ranged from 3.67 to 1.00, to 8.34 to 1.00, meaning that for every $1.00 spent on nutrition education in California, between $3.67 and $8.34 is saved in health care costs. These results bolster the argument that nutrition education programs are a good investment and funding them is sound public policy.
A. Block Joy is Specialist and Director of the UC Food Stamp Nutrition Education program in California, Department of Nutrition, UC Davis; V. Pradhan (deceased) was Senior Statistician is Economist, Emeritus, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley. G. Goldman is Economist, Emeritus, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
The authors thank Ruby Cox, Specialist, Virginia Cooperative Extension, who consulted on the methodology of the analysis, and whose insight, enthusiastic support and guidance were invaluable. We also acknowledge Barbara Sutherland, EFNEP Director, and the EFNEP Advisors who managed adult EFNEP in their respective counties and collected the data used in this study: Mary Blackburn (Alameda), Gloria Brown (San Francisco/San Mateo), Ann Cotter (Orange), Susan Donahue (Butte), Nancy Feldman (Stanislaus), Mary Fujii (Contra Costa), Chutima Gavanthor (Riverside), Margaret Johns (Kern), Cathi Lamp (Tulare), Connie Lexion (San Bernardino), Anna Martin (San Joaquin), Yvonne Nicholson (Sacramento), Gwendolyn Stanford (San Diego), Jeanette Sutherlin (Fresno), Barbara Turner (Los Angeles) and Estella West (Santa Clara). In addition, we thank William Benford, Chris Hanson, Karrie Heneman and Karl Schroeder. This study was funded by a competitive grant from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.