Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health recently conducted a literature review and proclaimed that swapping out junk food for healthy eats would increase the price of food by $1.50 per day per person. That’s $6 every day for a family of 4, or $2200 a year. This is not pocket change:
” This would represent a real burden for some families, and we need policies to help offset these costs. On the other hand, 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.” Read more…
Another issue that wasn’t addressed in the study is the opportunity cost of eating healthy food. Healthy eating usually involves food preparation – cleaning, cutting, and cooking. Compare this to a drive thru, and think of a tired parent coming home after a full day of work and having to spend an hour in the kitchen to produce dinner.
It will be great once our elected officials decide to prioritize healthy food through subsidies for leafy greens and fruits instead of corn and soy that go into junk food, but until that happens, many Americans will continue to become sick from obesity related diseases.
So how can we claim that healthy food is cheaper than junk food?
Simply by looking over a horizon of several decades.
If you take a long-term view of your finances, eating nutrient poor junk foods is like an inverse mortgage on your future healthcare expenses. With every day’s bad choices, you are increasing your chances of a really expensive disease in five, ten or twenty years. Even if you are insured, the co-payments, time lost, pain, and suffering will be much more expensive than investing a few dollars in your family healthy every single day.
Don’t wait, start your health savings today. An easy first step is to eliminate soft drinks from your grocery shopping. That’s $500 a year per family!