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Question of the Month

If we want people to eat better, we need to acknowledge that pears cost more than potato chips. A study from Drexel University, Philadelphia, published in a recent edition of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, showed that the difference in the cost of healthy foods versus their unhealthy counter­parts plays a significant role in whether people follow a nutritious diet.

Investigators compared the prices of healthy edibles like fruits, vegetables and dairy to those deemed less wholesome, including soda, sweets and salty snacks, and assessed the eating patterns of 2,765 people who visited neighborhood stores in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Baltimore. After researchers crunched the numbers, it appeared that a larger healthy-to-unhealthy price ratio was associated with lower odds of adhering to a high-quality diet.

Sadly, the cost per serving of better-for-you perishable foods in supermarkets was nearly twice that of unhealthier packaged foods, and for every 14% increase in the healthy-to-unhealthy price ratio, the odds of following a healthy diet sank 24%. This drives home the point that we need government policies that shrink the price gap between nourishing food and junk food so we can improve overall diet quality in America.

Do you think the price of healthy foods is too high? Do you base food-buying decisions on cost? What are some ways you eat healthfully without spending too much? What food policies could lessen the cost of nutritious food? Send your responses to Sandy Todd Webster at [email protected].

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