Eating healthy: Prohibitively expensive or surprisingly cheap?

foodIncome, education, neighborhood environment and other social forces shape and limit the food choices people make. For instance, studies consistently have found a socioeconomic gradient in food choices: at lower levels of socioeconomic status, the consumption of whole grains, lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, and fresh vegetables and fruit decreases while the consumption of fatty meats, refined grains, and added fats increases. So I was really surprised by the conflicting headlines generated by a new meta-analysis by researchers at Brown University and the Harvard School of Public Health. As I explained in a post for the Covering Health blog:

 The researchers crunched the numbers from 27 previous studies and calculated that healthy eating costs $1.48 more per day per adult than eating a low-quality diet ($550 more annually per person). Here are some of the headlines that ensued:

Over the past decade, public health researchers and economists have developed a rich understanding of the ways that income, education, neighborhood environment and other social forces shape and limit the food choices people make…On the policy front, researchers have more or less reached the same conclusion: We should be putting a lot more effort into making fresh and nutritious food more affordable and easily accessible for people in disadvantaged neighborhoods and rural areas. But you would not get that from many of the news reports on the meta-analysis…[continue reading at]

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