An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it will take a toll on your pockets! According to a new study, it will cost Americans an extra $550 a year to maintain a healthy diet compared to those who chow down on junk food, CNN reports.
On average, health-conscious Americans that eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish spend $1.50 more per day than their unhealthier counterparts. Though less-healthy diets that focus on meats, processed foods, and refined grains is cheaper, the damage junk food does to one’s well-being just isn’t worth it.
A recent study points out that chronic illnesses that occur due to poor diet, such as heart disease and diabetes, costs the average patient $1,200 a year — a price penalty that can be avoided by eating nutritiously. But the study’s lead author, Mayuree Rao, understands that an extra $1.50 daily is biting off more than what some can chew:
“For many low-income families, that means quite a lot,” Rao said. “It translates to about $550 more per year for one person, and that could be a real barrier to healthy eating.” But considering the fact that America spends nearly $400 billion a year on diet-related maladies, Rao says that “when you look at the long-term health impact, the extra $1.50 is a good investment.”
The study analyzed the eating habits of 27 countries, but the majority of the experiment (52 percent) was conducted in the United States. The prices of food was then converted into international dollars and adjusted for inflation.
“They evaluated the diet patterns based on the price per day (three meals’ worth) and the price per 2,000 calories – the FDA’s standard daily intake recommendation for adults. This ensured the researchers were looking at the price variations from all angles,” CNN wrote.
Meat had the highest price difference between the healthy version and the unhealthy version (ex; lean beef vs. fattier cut). Snacks, grains, and dairy, on the other hand, had an insignificant price difference between the healthier versions and its unhealthier counterparts.
The lead authors say that while it’s “conventional wisdom” that healthier foods are more expensive, this is the first study that sought to validate that notion. But Rao says that she predicted that healthier foods would be a lot pricier than $1.50 a day.
This study is now published in the British Medical Journal.