Is Healthful Eating More Expensive?

Healthful eating, if you find it at Whole Foods, can definitely be expensive. Folks from Harvard and Brown Universities say healthful food costs about $1.50 more per day than junk food. They base their assertions on a 2013 analysis published in BMJ Open. But like so many other questions in nutrition, the answer depends on how you ask the question.

Bias finds its way into the brains of even the smartest consumers and researchers. Other studies have found support for claiming that healthful eating can be less expensive.

Now, a set of three studies newly published in Appetite suggests that the axiom of expensive healthy food might simply function as a tool for rationalizing unhealthy choices. Sarah Hill and colleagues found that:

  1. People who believe healthy food is expensive have higher BMI and less healthy eating habits.
  2. Exposure to tasty food cues leads people to agree more that healthy food is too expensive.
  3. Dietary goals play a role in these beliefs and responses. People seeking healthier diets are less likely to buy into the axiom of expensive healthful food.

The authors summarize by saying:

The current research highlights the potential difficulty of changing beliefs about the cost of healthy eating, shedding light on the challenges associated with leading people to think objectively about food.

In other words, people believe what they like when it comes to food and nutrition. Never underestimate the power of humans to rationalize what we want to believe.

Click here for the study by Hill et al.

Greens, photograph © Sarah R / flickr

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August 19, 2016

2 Responses to “Is Healthful Eating More Expensive?”

  1. August 22, 2016 at 11:31 am, Allen Browne said:

    And people rationalize when they are bullied and stigmatized. We believe what we are taught to believe, but we cn always learn. Look what people have done with fat consumption and SSB consumption. Lot’s of opportunity for education.

    • August 22, 2016 at 2:21 pm, Ted said:

      You’re right, Allen!