We all know a healthy diet costs more than an unhealthy one. But how much more? Probably not as much as you think. A study published online December 5 in British Medical Journal, Open, shows that the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets. That’s the cost of a not-so-special cup of coffee or soft drink. Here’s what the senior author of the study had to say: “This research provides the most complete picture to-date on true cost differences of healthy diets,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, MPH, PhD, 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,” he continued:
“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.”
Our main chronic conditions, Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and High Blood Pressure, are the result of 2 things: lack of productive movement + poor nutrition.
Let’s look at the cost of just one of those: Type 2 Diabetes. According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, in 2012 dollars, “men diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at ages 25–44 years, 45–54 years, 55–64 years, and ?65 years, the lifetime direct medical costs of treating type 2 diabetes and diabetic complications were $124,700, $106,200, $84,000, and $54,700, respectively. In women, the costs were $130,800, $110,400, $85,500, and $56,600, respectively. The age–gender weighted average of the lifetime medical costs was $85,200, of which 53% was due to treating diabetic complications.”
On the other hand, 20 years of a healthy diet (like chicken, green beans, beets, cod, carrots, beef, grapes) will cost an extra $11,000 at $550 a year. Live another 20 years, you’re up to $22,000. That’s a bargain–and you have your health!
This is another instance of how making small changes can have an enormous impact.