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Innovative Research Tool to be Revealed at AAEA Annual Meeting

USDA researchers hosting session linking scanner data to costs of healthy eating

A new research opportunity will be unveiled during the 2017 AAEA Annual Meeting in Chicago at a session hosted by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS).

The session will feature the unveiling of a new application called “Linkages,” which links retail scanner statistics to USDA nutrition databases; allowing researchers, for the first time, to better understand the cost of eating healthy in America.

“This opens doors for a whole new area of research,” says Andrea Carlson, a senior economist with ERS. “It’s definitely a revolution. You are going to hear answers to questions you couldn’t get before.”

Carlson says Linkages will allow researchers to obtain detailed information such as the package size, brand, and flavor of certain items purchased by consumers, and it could help guide policy makers when it comes to food labeling; which could lead to people making healthier choices.

“Now we can use scanner data to look at the cost of health food purchases at the store,” Carlson said. “We can look at what people bought and why, and it will help us understand the costs of a healthy diet. We want to do anything we can do to better understand how to reduce obesity rates in this country.”

This session will be held Monday, July 31, at 10:00 a.m. For more information, or if you are interested in setting up an interview, please contact Jay Saunders in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 20 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

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