Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type



Health Promotion, Education and Behavior

Director of Thesis

Dr. Brie Turner-McGrievy

Second Reader

Dr. John Bernhart


Background: Heart disease is now the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all risk factors for heart disease. Research has shown that increasing consumption of plant-based foods may be effective in reducing risk factors for chronic disease, especially heart disease. A plant-based diet consists of nutrient-dense plant foods and minimizes the consumption of processed animal products. High costs of eating a healthier diet are a commonly cited barrier that prevents individuals from making dietary changes that could potentially decrease their chronic disease risk.

Objective: To investigate the differences in spending on groceries and spending on eating out between two groups of participants randomly assigned to a vegan diet group or a low-fat omnivorous diet group.

Design: 12-month randomized intervention

Methods: A total of 67 African American adults with overweight or obesity were recruited to participate in a 24-month nutrition intervention (The NEW Soul Study) as a part of cohort 1 (analyzed for this study). The participants were randomized to either a vegan diet or a low-fat omnivorous diet in a 2-year dietary intervention. At baseline, 34 participants were in the low-fat omni group and 33 in the vegan group. The intervention consisted of weekly classes for the first six months, bi-weekly for the next six months, and monthly classes for the last 12 months. Data collected from psychosocial questionnaires administered to participants from cohort 1 at baseline and 6-months were analyzed to assess 1) differences in food spending on groceries between the two groups 2) differences in food spending on eating out between the two groups. Overall changes in spending from baseline to 6-months collected from the first cohort (N=67) were analyzed and compared between the two groups.

Results: The vegan group increased their grocery spending less (+$9.59) than the omni group (+$26.04) from baseline to 6-months. The vegan group decreased their weekly eating out costs (-$18.24) more than the omni group (-$12.54) from baseline to 6-months. Although there were differences in spending between the two groups, none of the results were statistically significant.

Conclusion: The hypothesis that both dietary groups would have decreased spending on groceries and eating out from baseline to 6-months, and that the vegan group would have decreased their spending more than the omni group, was not confirmed due to the lack of statistically significant results.

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