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The Truth About the Cost of Eating Healthy

Health & Wellness  (tags: americans, children, diet, drugs, environment, family, food, government, healthcare, illness, medicine, nutrition, prevention, protection, risks, safety, science, society )

- 1854 days ago -
Two studies released this week examining the cost of healthy foods show the gap between perception and reality. ShopSmart magazine conducted a national poll of women about eating healthy.

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Kit B (276)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 8:55 am
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Two studies released this week examining the cost of healthy foods show the gap between perception and reality. ShopSmart magazine conducted a national poll of women about eating healthy. What they found is that 88% make excuses for not eating healthful foods, with cost (57%) topping the list. Then just yesterday, the USDA released a study that ďfound that most fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods cost less than foods high in fat, sugar and salt.Ē

Iíve discussed the importance of nutrition and health cost to the U.S. economy before, but what struck me with these two studies is the chasm between perception and reality. Sometimes it is a matter of how we frame that reality, which provides health communicators with a teaching moment. Doctors, RDís, nutritionists and marketers all have an opportunity to explain not only the immediate economics of eating healthful foods, but also the long term impact on health costs, happiness and overall wellness. Further, healthy people are more productive, leading more companies to invest in wellness programs. Despite all these efforts, the number of obese adult Americans is expected to increase 20% by 2030 to a whopping 42% of the nation.

Framing the conversation not around total calories (which most of us get too many of anyway) but rather portion size, weight and nutrients changes the equation. No longer is the donut a better value than an apple, or the soda a better deal than milk. Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest summed it up:

"If they buy a bag of chips for $2, they think itís a good deal, but if they buy a bag of apples for $2, they think itís a lot. We need to do more to help people understand that fruits and vegetables are not as expensive as they think they are."

Representing a variety of clients with strong nutrition messages and having two RDís on staff, we are regularly working with health communicators to empower them with information and resources to help educate consumers. When I started here 13 years ago, we were developing primers to help dietitians talk about these new things called antioxidants and helping them explain what a carotenoid is and why it is important. Today weíre sharing exciting new clinical research on health benefits of avocados and the importance of MUFAís (monounsaturated fatty acids). It has required a lot of effort and consistent communication at multiple levels, but our clients have seen consumption more than double in the past 10 years.

Others are doing amazing things to help educate people on both the importance of eating healthy, and how to do it. Share our Strength has a great program, Shopping Matters, which helps low income families navigate the store to find healthy, affordable foods. You can be a volunteer and get involved. It is easy and rewarding.

Jamie Oliver has been passionate about getting people to eat more healthful and real foods, and this Saturday is holding the first ever Food Revolution Day. His work in schools has been highly visible, showing them that they can serve affordable, healthy meals, but May 19, there will be 500 events taking place in over 300 cities spread over 33 countries. It underscores that this is a global issue, with worldwide obesity more than doubling since 1980. Find an event near you and check it out.

The truth is healthy eating is a choice we make each day that impacts the rest of our lives and those around us.

My mother used to say, you only have one body so take care of it. In todayís consumer world where we get a new car every few years or a new jacket each spring, the idea of taking care of something for a lifetime of use is lost. It is much easier to buy some IKEA furniture and leave it when you move rather than taking a second generation oak chest that has a few nicks from decades of use. So eat a banana and brush your teeth. Your future self will thank you for it later.
***study links within article at VISIT SITE***

By Jason Stemm | The Buzz Bin | Green living |

JL A (281)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 9:08 am
Using the appropriate measurement for comparisons is often a challenge for amateur researchers; this example of the needed shift to more accurate measure for valid comparisons is marvelous (and I'm not going to use the old adage of comparing apples to oranges LOL).

Nancy M (197)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 10:10 am
Great article Kit.

I have also found though that often the more processed food IS cheaper. Makes no sense except via subisidizations. Apple sauce may be cheaper than those apples, forexample. White pasta is far cheaper than whole wheat (some with bread).

Theodore Shayne (56)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 10:24 am
I'd rather spend two bucks for a bag of apples than chips which may or may not be full of chemicals and other assorted things that over time will help to kill me quicker. Of course it depends on whether the apples are GMOs or not.

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 10:27 am
Thank you for the post. (I forgot to mention this before: N, P, T)

Elizabeth M (65)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 12:38 pm
Thank You Kit for this very informative article. I really do believe that a lot of we people are just too lazy these days to go for all the good food that is out there, it takes us more time to clean, wash and prepare.

Kit B (276)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 12:43 pm

We have become painfully reliant on prepared and pre-packaged foods, and far too often people turn to take out service for the sake of convenience. Though it is easy to understand, it can also lead to problems that could other wise be avoided. Certainly we all know about obesity, diabetes and heart disease that stem from poor diets. That is but a few.

Chelsie H (19)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 2:15 pm
Noted; thanks for sharing!

Robert O (12)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 3:35 pm
Thanks Kit.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 3:57 pm
Good to hear there are public events to educate people but they should have started long time ago, BEFORE these issues like obesity etc became a wide spread problem. Again, failed education about important things.
It is beyond me how anyone can even value a bag of chips period.

Billie C (2)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 10:03 pm
most people don't understand that you can cook a nice healthy meal just as fast as going to the take out place. good food doesn't take hours to cook. it's easier to say i'll get it to go.

Sherri G (128)
Monday April 29, 2013, 1:03 am
I am very fortunate to have had a Mother who made it a priority for her family to eat balanced meals. She seemed to know all the things we see as important now. It was and remains imperative we teach our kids to eat what my Mother called a balance diet. The difference now is we have to read the labels too. It is just as easy to prepare a healthy meal as it is to get fast food. The problem is poor neighborhoods often do not have grocery stores stocked with fruits and vegetables but there is a fast food restaurant on every corner. TY Kit

Past Member (0)
Monday April 29, 2013, 5:16 am
Perhaps men should do the food shopping?

Kerrie G (116)
Monday April 29, 2013, 6:53 am
Noted, thanks.

Justin M (2)
Monday April 29, 2013, 8:58 am

Winn A (179)
Monday April 29, 2013, 1:19 pm

Shirley Elliott (69)
Monday April 29, 2013, 2:07 pm
Noted, thank you.

Judith Hand (55)
Monday April 29, 2013, 2:46 pm
Noted. Interesting article and good to know about the upcoming day, tx.

Birgit W (160)
Monday April 29, 2013, 2:46 pm
One should see what we have to pay here in Canada. It is outrageous.

Kirsten Taufer (43)
Monday April 29, 2013, 4:28 pm
This is not taking into account the surtax we pay for organics, which are the only foods out there that don't poison you, and so are truly healthy.

Kit B (276)
Monday April 29, 2013, 4:30 pm

With no absolute standards that are scrupulously enforced we do not even know that the foods sold as organic are really organic.

janet f (29)
Monday April 29, 2013, 4:54 pm
Oh please, people who say it's too expensive to eat fruits and vegetables just use that as an excuse. I don't eat meat and my grocery bills are a lot less than someone buying meat. Let's face it, people will use any excuse to not eat healthy foods or exercise. Either you want to take care of yourself, or you don't. The excuses are ridiculous.

Kit B (276)
Monday April 29, 2013, 5:02 pm

Not really Janet, some actually do not know how to eat healthy foods. Work with some of our poorest people, many that are trapped in cities, were never taught how to cook, and do not really understand why something that fills the belly is not necessarily good for them.

Sandra ;atterson (59)
Monday April 29, 2013, 5:05 pm
noted,thanks for the info

Tom Edgar (56)
Monday April 29, 2013, 5:43 pm
I find that the information in this article and some of the responses to be disappointing inasmuch that it isn't general knowledge and taught in schools. How can people attain the age of consent without acquiring the right of dissent and the knowledge to apply that discriminating evaluation of what is right, or wrong, for their own bodies?

I'm not particularly well educated, in the formal sense, and well into my eighties, my early years of education were interrupted by war time constrictions, but I learned from a prescient School Principal that healthy living resulted in a healthy body and mind. So I never smoked, am alcohol free, and without being fanatical eat, relatively, wisely. What Americans call chips is known here as "Crisps." same thing cheap flour and cheaper oil, plus water and artificial colouring, sugar, salt and flavours, then blasted with heat on a conveyor belt, you know a bit like Corn Flakes,. Eat that with even more sugar and for the conscience a little milk. Compare that with my breakfast of a compote of fresh Pear, mandarin and banana with yoghurt, topped with Australian bush honey. Then at 86 years I'll just go out and split some iron bark logs for my wood cook stove, so that I can cook my free ranging hens eggs for lunch. Bueno Appetito.

Kit B (276)
Monday April 29, 2013, 5:47 pm

Thank you, Tom. A lesson for all of us.

Karen Marion (30)
Monday April 29, 2013, 9:47 pm

reft h (66)
Monday April 29, 2013, 11:47 pm
thanks for the article

Ro H (0)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 4:38 am

Past Member (0)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 9:25 am

Patricia H. (440)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 11:14 am

Marie Therese Hanulak (30)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 11:55 am
The price of pesticide free foods is almost double the cost of ordianry food.
Also the grocery stores near me have no more than of 3 or 4 biologic vegetables. Since I don't buy junk food or prepared foods (to repalce with), the difference on my limited pension income is really big, if I had the cost of gaz to get to the stores that have a veriety of biologicaly grown vegies. So I try to use vegetables wash to get as much of the pesticides off, as possible.

Dot A (182)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 12:26 pm
Thanks, Kit~ Our legislature could have moved years ago to prevent the convoluted food industry [filled with the bugs of the worst kind: the bean counters, and I don't mean beans, I mean the $$$ counters, of the bottom line profit variety] and over the last 6 or 7 decades have de-constructed the wholesomeness of nutrients which come naturally in food. The appetite for $$$ has shown how unhealthy our world has become,... There are many thoughtful comments here that show how it is still possible to have a relatively healthy diet with some attention and careful selection of what we purchase. I find myself often buying lentils (and hope that a good rinsing will take off the worst of any harmful residues) and try to stick to veggies as much as possible. If we look back at what our country was eating 70 or 80 years ago, we'd find that most people consumed a fairly decent diet, without even trying. Tom Edgar's comment is a very positive example of living a healthy lifestyle and making it work in our times. For the poor who live in neighborhoods that provide little real food, it is our county's shame for how we manage this aspect of our environment. Our medical costs are soaring due mostly to the absolute depletion of food worthy of human consumption.

Azure Wildflowers (0)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 2:49 pm
Sadly it costs too much for most to eat healthy. It seems it cost more to have less junk added to your food.

Tom Edgar (56)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 4:32 pm
On the contrary Azure Healthily eating is actually cheaper. A Mars Bar costs more than a piece of fruit, and making your own Muesli from readily available cereals leaves you in control of what you ingest not Kellogs.
Water, from the tap, is cheaper and certainly more beneficial than any water or "Drink" from a bottle. Personally I buy only fruit juices with no preservatives or adulteration. The traditional Japanese eating regime is primarily rice (preferably brown) and vegetables with a little fish. Do you ever wonder why the Japanese have the greatest average longevity, in spite of atomic power station disasters. You can't find a lower cost and more healthy diet than the Japanese traditional. When I see welfare dependent families, usually grossly over weight, leaving Supermarkets with trolleys piled high with packaged foods, bottles of Cola and corn and potato chips for their ritualistic T V "Munchies " along with the cartons of cigarettes, I despair for the future health of their offspring. Their own health is, obviously, non existent.
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