So What is the cost of changing to a Healthy Diet?
I have for quite some time debated over this subject with students in class. When I lecture on Nutrition in the Health Sciences course the topic of cost of a healthy Diet always surfaces with students informing me of the costs to go healthy and how it is cheaper to stay where they are with the high calorie high fat options that they are used to.
When we get into this discussion I have often wondered myself about how much it would actually cost to change a persons lifestyle from low cost high calorie foods to considerably more healthy fruit, vegetables, poultry and fish
That is why I was very interested to read this study below and will keep this information on tap for when I next need it.
My own analysis tell me that even if it is more expensive is it not worth maybe going half way there at least?
A new meta analysis conducted by a group of Harvard researchers has amalgamated a robust data set from 27 previous studies relating to what people eat and how their lifestyle affects their food choices and overall spending. The studies are all coming from high-income countries and also included price data for individual foods and contrasted healthy foods against less healthy options.
Many places, particularly in urban areas, are struggling with the ability to provide access to fresh healthy food – creating the so-called “food deserts.” Since the vast majority of these food deserts are in low-income areas, this mete analysis should serve as a serious wake-up call to government officials, doctors and community leaders, alike.
A healthy diet is a balanced one that consists of fresh vegetables, nuts, fruit and fish or poultry choices. These types of diets tend to be considerably more expensive than low nutrition, high-calorie, high-fat options that you will find in a number of other places.
Refined grains, particularly white flour, along with frozen, canned or pre-packaged foods tend to be staples of less healthy diets. The meta-analysis indicates that cost is a prohibitive factor in many instances and, though it may not seem like a huge amount of money on a daily basis, a year’s worth of good food choices can run into four figure amounts.
Dariush Mozaffarian, the senior author of the study, spoke to the media and declared that even raising a food budget by $1.50 a day to provide healthier options would add up to around $550 per year. He was quick to maintain that some families simply can’t afford that – particularly those with several children or those caring for elderly family members.
The researchers were adamant that creating new distribution methods that favor the delivery of fresher and healthier foods was the fastest way to begin easing the financial burden for consumers looking for a higher-quality diet. They also pointed out that financial bottom lines could be helped significantly as this will, over the medium-to-long-term alleviate costs associated with health care and private and public health providers everywhere.
Diet-related chronic disease costs the taxpayer well into the billions every year and, while researchers certainly can’t make up people’s minds for them, many people would see their lifestyles (and life spans) dramatically altered by making better food choices. Many of them simply lack the funds to do so.
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