Eating Healthy Costs, But Eating Junk Food May Cost Even More

There's another reason not to switch out the chips and Oreos for bananas and broccoli.  According to a new study, eating healthy costs more about $550 a year.

Cary Polis reports at The Huffington Post that healthy foods cost $1.50 a day more the other stuff.  Doesn't sound like much, but when you add it up over a year -- well, you can see why people who don't have much money aren't exactly racing to Whole Foods.

"Even categories such as snacks/sweets and grains also cost more for healthier options, at $0.12 and $0.03 respectively," she reports. No significant price differences were seen between healthier and less healthy soda and juices.  The biggest price differences were in meat and protein, with prices an average of 29 cents higher per serving than the unhealthier choice.

But don't be quick to run to McDonald's, either. "The study authors caution that the $1.50 per day conclusion is based on comparing a very healthy diet -- such as one replete with fruits, vegetables and fish -- with a diet full of processed foods, meats and grains. The price difference is thus based on a relatively extreme contrast," Polis writes.

She also points out that, while $550 may be difficult for many poorer families to swing, costs in healthcare because of eating unhealthy or junk food may balance it out.

"This price difference is very small in comparison to the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases, which would be dramatically reduced by healthy diets," Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the study's senior author and associate professor at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, said in a press release, according to Polis.

She quotes another expert who really drives home the point.  "Hidden health costs like our global obesity epidemic and the food-related public health issues of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are certainly not included in the cost of your fast food meal,"  writes Ellen Gustafson, the co-founder of Food Tank, which calls itself "The Food Think Tank."

So is that $4 box of blueberries worth it?  Sometimes, I admit, it's not.  Probably a diet consisting mostly of fruits, vegetables and protein, with one monthly trip to McDonald's, is the best.

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