Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Healthy vs. unhealthy diet costs about $1.50 more per day

Date:
December 5, 2013
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
The healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day in the United States than the least healthy diets, according to new research. The finding is based on the most comprehensive examination to date comparing prices of healthy foods and diet patterns vs. less healthy ones.

The healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets, according to new research from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The finding is based on the most comprehensive examination to date comparing prices of healthy foods and diet patterns vs. less healthy ones.

The study will be published online December 5, 2013 in BMJ (British Medical Journal) Open.

"People often say that healthier foods are more expensive, and that such costs strongly limit better diet habits," said lead author Mayuree Rao, a junior research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH. "But, until now, the scientific evidence for this idea has not been systematically evaluated, nor have the actual differences in cost been characterized."

To address this question, the HSPH researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 27 existing studies from 10 high-income countries that included price data for individual foods and for healthier vs. less healthy diets. They evaluated the differences in prices per serving and per 200 calories for particular types of foods, and prices per day and per 2,000 calories (the United States Department of Agriculture's recommended average daily calorie intake for adults) for overall diet patterns. Both prices per serving and per calorie were assessed because prices can vary depending on the unit of comparison.

The researchers found that healthier diet patterns -- for example, diets rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts -- cost significantly more than unhealthy diets (for example, those rich in processed foods, meats, and refined grains). On average, a day's worth of the most healthy diet patterns cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy ones.

The researchers suggested that unhealthy diets may cost less because food policies have focused on the production of "inexpensive, high volume" commodities, which has led to "a complex network of farming, storage, transportation, processing, manufacturing, and marketing capabilities that favor sales of highly processed food products for maximal industry profit." Given this reality, they said that creating a similar infrastructure to support production of healthier foods might help increase availability -- and reduce the prices -- of more healthful diets.

"This research provides the most complete picture to-date on true cost differences of healthy diets," said Dariush Mozaffarian, the study's senior author and associate professor at HSPH and Harvard Medical School. "While healthier diets did cost more, the difference was smaller than many people might have expected. Over the course of a year, $1.50/day more for eating a healthy diet would increase food costs for one person by about $550 per year. 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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mayuree Rao, Ashkan Afshin, Gitanjali Singh, Dariush Mozaffarian. Do Healthier Foods and Diet Patterns Cost More Than Less Healthy Options? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. BMJ Open, December 2013

Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "Healthy vs. unhealthy diet costs about $1.50 more per day." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205171705.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2013, December 5). Healthy vs. unhealthy diet costs about $1.50 more per day. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205171705.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "Healthy vs. unhealthy diet costs about $1.50 more per day." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205171705.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) A look inside Monrovia's Island Hospital, a key treatment centre in the fight against Ebola in Liberia's capital city. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) The Ebola outbreak is putting stress on first responders in Liberia. Ambulance drivers say they are struggling with chronic shortages of safety equipment and patients who don't want to go to the hospital. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak

Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) After the announcement that the first U.S. patient had been diagnosed with Ebola, doctors were quick to say a U.S. outbreak is highly unlikely. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
TX Hospital Confirms Patient Admitted With Ebola

TX Hospital Confirms Patient Admitted With Ebola

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) Medical officials from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital confirm they are treating a patient with the Ebola virus, the first case found in the US. (Sept. 30 Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins