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 August 20, 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 August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — A 111-year-old Japanese was certified as the world's oldest man by Guinness World Records on Wednesday. Sakari Momoi, a native of Fukushima in northern Japan, was given a certificate at a hospital in Tokyo. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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