Maybe It Doesn't Cost a Lot to Eat Healthier After All!
I’m sure a lot of you will have heard somebody complain that ‘healthy food is too expensive’ and this is the mantra they stick with as they load their shopping basket up with junk food such as ready meals. Some say they would happily eat more fruit and vegetables if the prices weren’t ‘so expensive’. However, is this mind-set true? Or, are they just incorrect assumptions by those who simply choose convenience over their health? According to a new report, and on the contrary to popular belief, healthy and nutritious food is on the whole, actually cheaper than junk food. A report released by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) looked at data extracted from two leading supermarkets (Tesco and Asda) for price comparisons of 78 common food and drink products, and discovered that the healthier options are generally cheaper than less healthy alternatives. When compared by edible weight, the cheapest ready meals, pizzas, burgers and breakfast cereals cost over £2 per kilogram, but typical fruit and vegetables cost less than that amount, the study found. This method was used as opposed to the ‘flawed’ cost-per-calorie methodology. The IEA reported that the £1 cost of a cheeseburger could get you a kilo of sweet potatoes, two kilos of carrots, two and a half kilos of pasta, 10 apples or seven bananas, adding that the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day could cost as little as 30p. ‘Ultimately price is not the main driver of unhealthy food consumption’, the reported stated, which would seem to suggest that consumers were willing to fork out more for taste and convenience. The IEA added the ‘popular belief’ of obesity and poor nutrition being primarily driven by economic deprivation was ‘untenable’, and that the use of taxes and subsidies to incentivise better nutrition was not likely to be a success. The report highlighted the following:
- Obesity has increased rapidly at a time when incomes have risen and food prices have fallen.
- Obesity rates are higher in rich countries than in poor countries.
- People fail to buy more fruit and vegetables when they become richer.
- There is a high rate of obesity among people on middle and high incomes.
- The correlation between deprivation and obesity is only seen among women.
- Obesity rates among men are highest among middle income earners.