Here's the abstract:
The federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, emphasized the need for Americans to consume more potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D, and calcium, and to get fewer calories from saturated fat and added sugar. We examined the economic impact of meeting these guidelines for adults in King County, Washington. We found that increasing consumption of potassium—the most expensive of the four recommended nutrients—would add $380 per year to the average consumer’s food costs. Meanwhile, each time consumers obtained 1 percent more of their daily calories from saturated fat and added sugar, their food costs significantly declined. These findings suggest that improving the American diet will require additional guidance for consumers, especially those with little budget flexibility, and new policies to increase the availability and reduce the cost of healthful foods.Of course, the media picked up on it with its typical drama-a-gogo zeal. The Reuters story starts with "Eating healthier food can add almost 10 percent to the average American's food bill -- and that is just to boost a single nutrient like potassium."
MSNBC jumps in with "If you are trying to eat as healthy as the government wants you to, it’s going to cost you: at least $7.28 a week extra, that is."
So now crappy eaters the world over have a great excuse buy another 2 liters of Diet Coke, claiming that it saves them $380. The only problem is, this study is so absurdly flawed that even these silly news stories need to admit it - even though they bury this fact towards the end. Of course, those previously mentioned crappy eaters probably wouldn't know this, given they tend to be the kind of people who also don't read past the 2nd or 3rd paragraph of a news story, if they read at all.
In the study, the authors collected questionnaires on the typical eating habits of 1,123 people in King County, Washington, and calculated how much each diet cost based on retail food prices in three local supermarkets. However, they did not factor in costs for food bought outside grocery stores, such as fast food -- which would likely increase the food cost for each person.Oh yeah... hmmmm... factoring restaurant costs and the fact that many overworked, ill-informed, economically disadvantaged people look to fast food as a quick way to feed their family might be a factor. Maybe! And then from MSNBC:
So why would the participants in Monsivais’ study have to spend so much? King County includes Seattle, one of the most affluent and highly educated cities in the country. When those folks consume potassium, Monsivais says, it tends to come in the form of more expensive fruits and vegetables such as nectarines and dark leafy greens.Oh really, rich people buy better food? Ya think that might skew the results a little? I dunno...
But let's say, just for fun, that this study is right. Let's say it's more expensive to eat right - no wait, let me rephrase that. The correct wording should be that it's cheaper to eat poorly. (The reason I prefer to use this terminology is because eating healthy should be considered the status quo.) Either way, here's the thing that kills me. I admit that there's a small, SMALL section of the American population caught in the horrible trap shown in the documentary Food, Inc. These poor people are truly in a situation where farm subsidies and lack of access forces them to eat inferior food. My heart goes out to them.
But the rest of you are just lazy and looking for excuses.
How many of you have unlimited texting on your phones? Designer jeans? Cable TV? iPads/Pods/Poops? A new car payment? a Starbuck's latte? Little flowers painted on your fingernails? Cocktails a few times a week? These are not requirements for human life. Potassium, fiber, vitamin D, and calcium are. As bad as the state of nutritional education is right now and as awful as companies like Monsanto and McDonald's are, we need to take ownership of our issues. If you're overweight or just generally unhealthy and you know it's because of what you eat, odds are you could make the changes you need. You might have to switch from Luckies to Levis so you can buy bananas and whole grain bread, but here's a little secret: when you're fit, your ass looks hot in even the cheapest of jeans.