Real Food Costs Less in the Long Run

It’s said that real food is more expensive than processed food, and in some ways this is true.

A 2013 analysis of 27 studies from 10 countries found that eating healthier food costs about $1.56 more than processed food per 2,000 calories.

However, in the long run, this difference is minimal compared with the cost of managing chronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

For instance, a 2012 study found that people with diabetes spend 2.3 times more on medical expenses than people who don’t have diabetes.

There is a popular notion that it is cheaper to eat unhealthy foods than healthy foods (fruits, vegetables and organic food), and that the astounding difference in costs determine the diet habits of a lot of people – especially of low-income families. According to Harvard School of Public Health researchers, the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets.

However, healthy foods are often much less expensive than junk foods when compared with health costs of eating an unhealthy diet. The price difference is very small, the Harvard researchers found, in comparison to the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases, which would be dramatically reduced by healthy diets.

Dr Michael Greger, founder of NutritionFacts.org and author of New York Times Best Seller How Not to Die, insists that healthy foods cost less than junk foods. While junk food may be four times cheaper than healthy foods, he says, you get 20 times less nutrition.