If you've ever had the general perception that healthy, organic and locally-grown unprocessed foods are more expensive, you're not dreaming. The Mother Nature Network reports that a recent study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that those with healthy diets spend an average of $1.50 more per day than those without.
The study analyzed data from 27 other reports that had compared the costs of healthier foods. For individuals on more wholesome diets, the average cost of food was about $1.54 per 2,000 calories, the recommended daily intake recommended by health professionals. In the United States, that number was slightly higher, at $1.79.
There are two points to make about such expenses:
- Healthcare costs for those who are obese are significantly higher than for individuals who are not. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the annual medical costs for a person suffering from obesity are $1,429 higher on average.
- If you extrapolate for the whole year, $1.79 per day comes out to $653 annually. That's not a trivial amount of money for low-income families, who typically experience a higher rate of conditions such as obesity and heart disease.
What these facts indicate is that the country's food system needs to do a better job subsidizing healthy foods and taxing items that are bad for you. Making fruits and vegetables more widely available and accessible, while making high-fat meats and dairy products more pricey, would reverse these trends and reward healthy eating rather than penalizing it.
These statistics also indicate that, although a healthy diet may require a higher initial investment, it is more than offset by the savings one would experience in healthcare costs.