Healthy eating costs you $1.50 more a day
December 5th, 2013
04:01 PM ET

Healthy eating costs you $1.50 more a day

Eating nutritional foods is one of the best ways to reduce obesity. But following a healthy diet isn't always easy, especially for lower socioeconomic groups.

One of the biggest barriers to buying good food is the cost, many experts say. Now researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have put a dollar amount on the price of healthy eating. By reviewing 27 studies on the cost of healthy vs. unhealthy foods, they've estimated the daily cost of eating better. Their results are published in the British Medical Journal.

"Conventional wisdom has been that healthier foods cost more, but it's never been clear if that's actually true or exactly how much more healthier foods might cost," said lead study author Mayuree Rao. "We found that the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day, and that's less than we might have expected."

The study

Rao and her team looked at studies done after 2000 that compared healthy and unhealthy version of certain foods - for example, lean beef vs. a fattier cut, and studies that compared healthy and unhealthy diet patterns, such as a diet rich in fruits and vegetables versus a diet without fresh produce.

The studies they analyzed came from 10 countries, including the United States, Canada and several European nations. The food prices were converted to international dollars and adjusted for inflation.

The researchers evaluated the prices based on a specific food's price per serving, as well as the price per 200 calories of that food item. They evaluated the diet patterns based on the price per day (three meals' worth) and the price per 2,000 calories - the FDA's standard daily intake recommendation for adults. This ensured the researchers were looking at the price variations from all angles.

The results

Some food groups showed more of a difference in price than others. Meat had the highest price difference; healthier versions cost 29 cents more per serving on average than the less healthy option. Grains, snacks and dairy, on the other hand, showed minimal price differences between healthier and unhealthier versions.

On a broader scope, the healthiest diets appear to cost consumers about $1.50 more per day than the unhealthiest diets. This means consumers who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, for example, pay about $1.50 more per day than those who eat a diet made up mostly of processed foods.

This result was consistent across several types of healthy diets, the study authors say, including the Mediterranean-style diet, Harvard's Alternative Healthy Eating Index, and diets focused on eating more energy dense foods.


Every study has a caveat - something the scientists couldn't control for or didn't analyze that may be affecting the results. In this case, the study authors were limited by data that had been collected by others in the past. The definition of a "healthy" diet varied between each study, and the prices were only evaluated to reflect the price for a typical adult's daily diet.


"Our aim... was not to evaluate whether one specific product costs more than another, but whether healthier foods in a broad class of foods cost more, on average, than less healthy foods in the same broad class," the study authors write.

Rao wants you to consider what $1.50 means to you.

"For many low-income families, that means quite a lot," she said. "It translates to about $550 more per year for one person, and that could be a real barrier to healthy eating."

But for other people, $1.50 is less than they spend on their morning cup of coffee. It's "just a drop in the bucket when you consider the billions of dollars spent every year on diet-related chronic disease like obesity, diabetes and heart disease," Rao said. "When you look at the long-term health impact, the extra $1.50 is a good investment."

soundoff (254 Responses)

    nice try....thats a bit low. I have done the math for myself.

    December 6, 2013 at 07:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • L

      Totally agree, this is way too low and what do they mean by healthy?

      December 6, 2013 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • mnbska

      Are you saying "nice try" to the Harvard School of Public Health? You are N=1, and your evidence is anecdotal. I'm sure they controlled for the factors that led to your result.

      December 6, 2013 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
  2. john

    It is clear, we need to provide subsidies to soy and corn. That way, we can keep the prices of veggies high to help the struggling corporate farmers.

    December 6, 2013 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rebecca

      Corn is a grain, although soy is a legume/vegetable. The federal subsidies help a lot of the family-run farms in my area (Illinois), if it weren't for that assistance they would have given up farming years ago because they can't afford it.

      That being said, there are a lot of corporate-run farms that certainly don't need the money and it inflates the cost all the way up the food chain: higher price for corn means higher price for livestock feed, means you pay more for your hamburger.

      December 6, 2013 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Giving tax dollars to people who farm soy and corn is stupid, for me. I view both foods as not healthy, and both foods may be leading to American fatness.

      As for Rebecca, smaller farmers have to provide customers like me what we want to eat... farming may change when subsidies end, but I am not into giving welfare for small or big farmers.

      December 6, 2013 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
    • verse

      Having been raised as a child on an Iowa corn/soybean/beef farm, I asked my father once, "Dad, what will happen if corn and meat prices get really high?" His simple response, "We'll be healthier."

      I think if we eat the healthy stuff, we'll save money in the long run. But government is not run by logic, it's run by lobbyists.

      December 6, 2013 at 12:05 | Report abuse |
  3. Jon

    If your going to look at healthy eating from a dollar and cents perspective, you need to include the whole picture. How does healthy eating impact medical bills? I would guess the increased cost of healthy eating would be more be more than offset by savings in the area of medical savings, fewer doctor visits, few prescriptions, fewer hospital stays, etc.

    December 6, 2013 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Vetta


      December 6, 2013 at 09:16 | Report abuse |
    • mkjp

      While this is true, I wonder how many of the people with low enough income that they just can't sqeek out another $1.50 per day per person are actually regularly receiving any medical care. They may just be suffering with obesity related problems that aren't fatal, or at least up until very recently, perhaps hitting the ER with no way to pay the bill. So if they (for one reason or another) are not actively paying for medical care, the fact that buying better food is cheaper won't matter as much to them.

      December 6, 2013 at 09:21 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      When you don't have any more money, and you don't have a way to get it, whether you need $1.50 more or $10,000 more is irrelevant.

      December 6, 2013 at 22:12 | Report abuse |
  4. Dave

    It may cost more, but you save on thousands for being helthier. Kind of a no brainer.

    December 6, 2013 at 08:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. dave

    $1.50 per day should be no problem since the poor pay with money (stamps) that is stolen (deducted) from the pay of those who work.

    December 6, 2013 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Namaste

      Spoken like a true heartless conservative.

      December 6, 2013 at 08:40 | Report abuse |
    • purplehart

      who has NO idea how many of our wounded warriors need food stamps. Mine would if I didnt have the $ to support him. Most are not as lucky.

      December 6, 2013 at 08:44 | Report abuse |
    • Purestriker

      Because denigrating the poor is always sooo helpful.

      December 6, 2013 at 08:45 | Report abuse |
    • dave

      it is still money taken from others

      December 6, 2013 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
    • Nicole


      December 6, 2013 at 10:46 | Report abuse |
    • wrongpolice

      Are there no prisons?"
      "Plenty of prisons..."
      "And the Union workhouses." demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"
      "Both very busy, sir..."
      "Those who are badly off must go there."
      "Many can't go there; and many would rather die."
      "If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

      December 6, 2013 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Yes, it does matter. Food stamps are not enough to cover a whole month of eating healthy. Add to that the lack of accesss to healthy foods and you get poor eating habits.

      Having said that, I am sure it won't change your mind and you will continue to believe that "those people" are taking money from you because they don't want to work and are lazy. Hopefully, life will treat you well and you will never become one of "those people"

      December 6, 2013 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      Actually it is a pretty big problem, when you can barely afford the basics (milk, tp, etc) Not everyone who is poor is on or can get on food stamps. Me and my husband both work, we aren't on food stamps or any kind of assistance, we pay all our own bills and don't live off anyone else. I'd love to eat healthier, but we literally don't have enough grocery budget to buy any fruits or veggies or healthy food most the time. All the meat we get for meals is given to us from friends.

      December 6, 2013 at 14:22 | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Fact is that most poor people work harder than most rich people. If you're rich, you got there by exploiting others. So, it's really you stealing from them.

      December 6, 2013 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • Eva

      Dave, you actually pay more in taxes for cooperate welfare than for those who actually need it. You need to direct your anger towards McDonald's and Walmart CEOs. We pay welfare for the WORKING people.

      December 6, 2013 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
    • Dan3333333

      Karen: foodstamps for a family of 4 hve been lowered back to $630 a month. I have a good job and feed my family on a $600 a month food budget.. No sympathy from me. "If they do not work they shall not eat"

      December 8, 2013 at 19:28 | Report abuse |
  6. dave

    My office is buying Xmas presents of "poor" family - one child of 16 wears size 38 pants. His family is not hurting for food

    December 6, 2013 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elaine

      That's because the money they CAN afford is loaded with calories – mcdonalds, frozen meals, etc.

      December 6, 2013 at 08:20 | Report abuse |
    • themom

      We buy and grow organic foods and eat 'healthy' at our house. My seventeen year old wears 38 waist pants too. He is also 6'4' and weighs 190 pounds. He runs and/or works out everyday except Sundays. My point here? Unless you know how tall the teenager is, you know nothing.

      December 6, 2013 at 08:55 | Report abuse |
    • dave

      stop making excuses for people who eat junk. McDonalds is a choice a dumb choice by dumb lazy people

      December 6, 2013 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
    • get realist

      Yeah, but are you mad, bro?

      December 6, 2013 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
  7. woodie

    In a capitalist society, we are driven by money. We do not invest in anything that doesn't translate to big dollars. Why would food be any different?

    December 6, 2013 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. InTheMiddle

    As a personal trainer this article is misleading. The cost in health care due a lifetime of poor eating habits will far outweigh the initial cost of eating good simple nutritious food, and don't give me the same BS about poor people living in the city can't afford it. I was poor, I lived in a city and I did it.

    December 6, 2013 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nancy Miller

      The article did not take into account the fact that the inner cities, where so many poor people live, have huge 'food deserts'. To get to a real grocery store that sells fresh foods, they have to take one or more busses to and from. Tell me how an older person, who can barely afford the rent, is supposed to do that, with bags of groceries in their arms.

      December 6, 2013 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Well I was poor in the suburbs, and that's a lot different than being poor in the city. Most big cities have more resources than suburban cities. In big cities you have public transportation system, and usually a lot more shops and markets to choose from. But where I lived in the suburbs, we didn't have public transportation, and with the exception of a fairly expensive market, I was miles from any other place of business.

      December 6, 2013 at 22:17 | Report abuse |
    • momsRus

      So if I understand the responses correctly, the poor have problems accessing healthy food, rather than paying for it?

      December 6, 2013 at 23:06 | Report abuse |
  9. CPEEJ

    Healthy eating costs less than what you may think. Especially if you're already eating only veggies. I cut my grocery bill by 20% switching to a more plant based diet. On top of that, I did realize it's NOT that much more expensive to buy organics and healthier foods. I would say the $1.50 a day is probably accurate if you cook for yourself every day.

    I wonder if that amount would be smaller for people that really eat unhealthily. A lot of families go out to dinner most nights instead of cooking. They must be spending way more on unhealthy food than a family that cooks a healthy meal every night. 90% of the time, it's cheaper for me to cook a meal in the crockpot on Sunday and munch on it through the week than to go out to eat M-F.

    December 6, 2013 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Geedubbers

      You are one hundred percent correct!!

      December 6, 2013 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
    • Anna

      Agreed...cut the meat, it is the most expensive category and not healthy for humans or the environment.

      December 6, 2013 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
    • nexus

      100% agree with you. People don't realize that meat is extremely expensive for what you get. Yes, it's calorie dense, but for 1 lb of hamburger you pay about $4. You can get a pound of fresh veggies or fruit for less than that. When my wife and I went vegan, our grocery bill, like you said, actually went down quite a bit, as you are eating bulkier less calorie dense food, with the proper amount of calories. You want to bulk up the calories? Eat beans, and different types. They also have a higher protein ratio than meat ever will. Oh, and you're not supporting the likes of Tyson, etc, when you do that!

      December 6, 2013 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
  10. Relictus

    This article topic is always silly. Here's one silly point: "The poor are fat because they can only afford to eat fast food!". Fast food costs more than making your own meals. Everyone knows this. Vegetables and fruits are much cheaper in the store than packaged as a side item at KFC. A PB&J sandwich sold in the deli section of a supermarket costs $2. It does not cost me $2 to make a sandwich like that! Here's another silly point: "It costs more to eat healthy". Riiiiight, because a pound of broccoli always costs more than ground beef. I suppose that a person could spend more if they insist on organic produce, "naked juice" and silly products like that. Chicken is healthier than beef, and it's cheaper, too!

    Pure silly people. Spending money on fast food is certainly contributing to keeping people poor, but it is also a choice.

    Here's my lunchbox tip: pack a "cup O' noodles" ($1.38 for six) and a large slice of homemade bread (cheap) plus a container of water (free). Carbs, water, salt. It's neither fast food, nor greatly healthy, but you won't starve. I have been eating like that all week.

    December 6, 2013 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      Check out the fat content in those packaged noodles. They're deep fried in palm oil.

      December 6, 2013 at 09:23 | Report abuse |
    • Alexis

      That is the point of this article exactly. Yes, Cup'Noodles are cheap but they're also super unhealthy. They can have as much as 75% of your daily recommended sodium allowance and are often deep fried before their freeze-dried and packaged for you.

      No you won't starve – The people who can't afford to eat healthy food are not starving they're eating the same crap you are.

      December 6, 2013 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
    • PJ

      I personally would never eat Cup-o-Noodles because they are so unhealthy.

      December 6, 2013 at 14:43 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      So I see you've never actually looked on the back of a cup o noodles carton. It's insanely unhealthy. You are just eating fat, artifical coloring, salt, carbs, and MSG. Additionally, a lot of people actually can't eat that stuff. It gives me severe acid reflux, which has eroded away my enamel and has caused me a lot of esophageal, dental problems.

      December 6, 2013 at 22:24 | Report abuse |
    • Dan3333333

      Other than the sodium, but Campbells chunky soup, less than $2 and definately a meal.

      December 8, 2013 at 19:34 | Report abuse |
  11. unowhoitsme

    Prepackaged food is much more expensive than making it from scratch. I make all my food from scratch, eat organic produce and haven't seen a doctor in 17 years. Yes, buying organic is a little more costly, but it's part of my health "insurance". Prior to that I was a processed food eater and lived at the doctor's office or in a hospital for numerous ailments. Too many preservatives, dyes, chemicals, etc. in 'food', which are no longer filled with nutrients to actually feed the body. They are empty calories that cause the body harm. Do the research for yourself and see what you are actually consuming in these products. It's scary. And we are feeding our children this crap and wonder why their behavior and health are optimal?! These chemicals are messing up their brains and body organs. There should be an FDA warning label, but the FDA has been bought out by these companies so they can have a very long shelf life. If it depended on me, these products would live on the shelf for life!

    December 6, 2013 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Bob

    Not True. $500 dollars a year, can break many people who are unemployed, Its the rich people coming up with these calculations, because they have no money worries.

    December 6, 2013 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dave

      The poor are not spending money for food they get stamps. The poor have to have smart phones

      December 6, 2013 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
  13. nostrildamus

    If our schools focused on preparing you for life instead of the next test, maybe we'd be able to include cooking classes for our kids so they wouldn't be intimidated by home cooking.

    December 6, 2013 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Lee

    Maybe they could use some of the money they spend on cigarettes. I'm just saying.

    December 6, 2013 at 09:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dave

      No, the cigarette money goes to lotto tickets

      December 6, 2013 at 09:42 | Report abuse |
  15. Sue

    Eliminate processed foods and drinks filled with sugar, additives, addictive chemicals and gmos, and the grocery money goes so much further, and improve your overall mental and physical health. Kids fed real food have fewer behavior problems. It's really a no brainer.

    December 6, 2013 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Linda

    Oh baloney! We changed to a healthier diet – eliminated all processed foods – and ended up saving money! Sure – some things cost more, but if you keep in season, stay local and cook from scratch – it is actually much, much cheaper. And doesn't really take a whole lot more time either. A little more time in the kitchen, but a lot less shopping time.

    December 6, 2013 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      Just because you saved money by not buying processed foods, doesn't mean that your food budget is within the realm of affordability for someone who is poor.

      December 6, 2013 at 22:26 | Report abuse |
    • Philipp10

      Me: This article is not about what the poor can afford. If you had bothered to read it, it only says, the difference between eating crap and eating healthy is 1.50 per day. If a person cannot afford to eat crap, they obviously cannot afford to eat healthy, we get that.

      December 8, 2013 at 10:57 | Report abuse |
  17. Eddie

    I find it hard to believe it's only an extra $1.50 a day but then I guess that depends on what you are considering as a healthy switch. For instance, I just bought two organic tomatoes that were nearly $4, I could have spent less on non-organic, but again I guess it depends on what you are considering healthy choices. Organic beef, chicken, eggs all cost much more than non-organics. Basically if you want to eat the healthiest foods, which I believe to be organic without steroids and hormones added, you're going to pay a lot more than that double cheeseburger on the McDonald's $1 menu.

    December 6, 2013 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dave

      I would rather eat food grown with chemicals than cow feces

      December 6, 2013 at 09:43 | Report abuse |
    • Name* margaet

      Dave...really? You are stsrting to.sound like a troll.

      What do you have against cow manure??? Have you been. Brainwashed by.Monsanto??? For thousands of years civilazation relied on manure based fertilizer and survived. You. Are getting some skewed information probably from corporate factory farm pr

      December 6, 2013 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
    • Philipp10

      you ding dong, its not about organic vs conventional food. The article is about the difference between eating cup of soup and fresh veggies. Forget about organic, way, way too expensve. I don't waste my time on organic as I don't believe its benefits are worth it. Surely, the poor could NEVER afford organic.

      December 8, 2013 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
  18. mah29

    Another issue in changing the way we eat is lack of food experience as I call it. Preparing meals that are familiar but using different ingredients.The cookbooks have dishes that are not familiar. When cooking for a family or cooking on a limited budget means you don't have the time or money to experiment. If dinner is a inedible then more food must be available.

    December 6, 2013 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Cj

    It doesn't have to be that expensive to eat healthy. Switch out meat for dried beans, and drop dairy. There are other sources for calcium. I also look for deals on produce and sometimes cook and freeze larger amounts as needed.

    December 6, 2013 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Pippa

    Dream on! 😀

    December 6, 2013 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. smartaz

    I have a family of 6. A trip thru the drive thru costs me around $40. I can cook them a healthy meal for around half of that. Fast food is no longer cheap.

    December 6, 2013 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Another study to be debunked in 6 months

    Eat nothing that casts a shadow. Live forever. Strive to always be 16.

    December 6, 2013 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bill

      Almost all food casts a shadow.

      December 6, 2013 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
  23. Christy

    There are so many different factors that could go into that "$1.50 a day." Such as what unhealthy foods are being chosen (a can of store-brand canned chili vs a fast food meal has a big price difference) and what healthy foods are being chosen (a gallon of organic milk vs a regular store brand gallon of milk also has a price difference of several dollars..) I'm not sure how they came up with that number, as everyone shops differently in both the "healthy" and "unhealthy" categories. Long term health savings, I'm sure are enormous. The benefits of eating healthy food are undeniable. I've found the best way to save money by shopping healthy is to plan meals ahead of time, stay away from processed foods, use coupons when available and watch sale prices. It can be done on a budget. It just takes some planning.

    December 6, 2013 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cotter

      The claim that healthy food cost too much is ridiculous a bag of apples is cheaper then a bag of chips
      fresh chicken IS cheaper then pound for pound then foster farm chicken strips
      I did my own investigative work in the grocery store a few yearsago because others I know were making this claim
      the claim is hog wash and a few bunches of spinach is much cheaper then spinach dip!

      December 6, 2013 at 21:26 | Report abuse |
  24. Eric

    You can also save money eating healthy foods by making them. I've had the same bread machine for 22 years now and bake my own bread. A whole wheat loaf is less than $0.25 to make. Sometimes I makes breads with whole oats, amaranth ... still cheaper than buying unhealthy white bread in the store.

    December 6, 2013 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      Yeah like I am going to use the last $50 to my name to buy a bread machine when I have no food to eat.

      December 6, 2013 at 22:27 | Report abuse |
    • Relictus


      Dude. Five ingredients – water, flour, sugar, salt, yeast. You can make bread yourself, without a machine. It just takes longer.

      December 8, 2013 at 01:17 | Report abuse |
  25. Christy

    I also agree with the previous post by nostrildamus. I think a big part of why younger generations are not eating healthy is because life skills such as cooking are not emphasized in a lot of schools or homes. I think it's more the parents responsibility to pass these skills on to their children, but some parents don't have the skills themselves. Schools teach healthy eating and nutrition, but few in my region teach the cooking skills needed to actually apply it to daily lives. Many who don't learn to cook at home continue eating convenience foods into adulthood, and accustom their own children to these foods.

    December 6, 2013 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Nikita

    My husband and I decided to change our "lifestyle" for the better on August 4, 2013. Myself weighing 331 lbs and him weighing 277 lbs – we were eating ourselves to death. Fast forward to December 6, 2013 – I have lost 70 lbs and he has lost 46 lbs! We did this by cutting out processed foods, fast food, pop, pasta, bread – basically everything you SHOULD stay away from and guess what, WE SAVED MONEY – A LOT OF IT!

    Since it is cold where I live, I cook homemade Turkey Chili on either Saturday/Sunday and make enough for the entire week. The whole pot (huge pot, mind you) costs about $20. Where else can you eat for an entire week for 2 people for $20?! NOWHERE!!!! Eating healthy does not cost more money, you have to be mindful of what you buy and no, I don't buy organic....no need to. That's what rich people buy to feel special. I do not need organic food to live a healthy life.

    In my house for my husband and I, we spend each week on groceries, on average – $50.00-$60.00. That includes breakfast, lunch, dinners and snacks. IT CAN BE DONE!

    Before we would spend over $100 a week on unhealthy food....

    Not to mention, i see it on a daily basis when I go grocery shopping – People with food stamps buying chips, pop, fried chicken, fries, candy....YOU GUYS DISGUST ME! If you are gonna get free money from us working people, at least feed your children healthy food. End of rant.

    December 6, 2013 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      Hey I have a rant too! It's about self righteous people who have never been dirt poor proclaiming how poor people who rely on fast food disgust them, on the basis of the fact that they saved money by cutting out junk food.

      Lady, you should be happy you could afford $100 a week in junk. Imagine having no phone, no transportation, only having access to one market, and only having $15-$20 a week to spend on food. That was my situation 12 years ago. The reality is that you just can't really pull together 21 healthy meals on that if your only option is to buy food from one of the major commercial market chains. Maybe if you live near a discount store or something,or have access to public transportation, but not all poor people do. So get off your better than thou high horse.

      December 6, 2013 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
    • Nikita

      Get of your high horse "ME". I was also in your shoes, in the same situation. I couldn't pay rent, had a prepaid cell phone, no cable/internet and had to voluntarily give up my car because I couldnt afford the payments. So before you go off on someone (thinking you know what they went through), take a step back and calm down. And the $100 a week was just not spent at the grocery store...fast food, gas stations, pop/snacks at work...it was all put together.

      Get your act together and stop blaming others or being mad at others for what they feel and think. You, my not friend, have some major issues.

      I'm sure you're on food stamps, right?!

      And how about this for a knee slapper...I just made 2 huge pots of chili over the weekend....they have been portioned out and will last 20 meals. All for under $20. IT CAN BE DONE! If a person wants to get cheaper, healthy food, you have to find ways to do so. It may not be the easiest thing to do but it can be done. Walmarts are on every corner, they have healthy food...just skip the fried chicken and jo-jo's premade food and you may surprise yourself.

      And junk food is wayyyy more expensive, omg, sooo much more expensive. You buy a bag of doritos for almost 4 bucks. I buy a huge bag of apples or pears or oranges for 2 bucks....you do the math. Not to mention, most ppl eat that bag of chips in one or two days.

      ppl like you disgust me...get off your high horse and put yourself in others shoes before you speak. Just plain ignorant and uneducated.

      Now go spend my money on your food.

      December 9, 2013 at 09:15 | Report abuse |
  27. myreply

    Maybe growing your own healthy food would help. A packet of seeds is cheap and you can grow lots of veggies and fruit. Plus you get exercise tending the garden. Canning or freezing saves it through the year.

    December 6, 2013 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Relictus

      That takes a yard or at least a patio, plus soem way of keeping the bugs off.

      December 8, 2013 at 01:18 | Report abuse |
  28. Crystal

    Even if you can't afford healthy foods, what is stopping obese poor people from eating less? You're going to lose weight if you eat less.

    December 6, 2013 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Christy

    @Nikita, I admire your dedication. Congratulations on your weight loss, your healthy lifestyle and all the good things to come from it.

    December 6, 2013 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nikita

      Thank you 🙂

      December 6, 2013 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
  30. anomaly

    I'm guessing that Dave is a republican and a christian. The reason I'm guessing that is because this is how every republican christian I personally know talks.

    December 6, 2013 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Amy

    Think of what all the medical costs will be if you DONT eat healthy. I am sure more than $1.50 daily

    December 6, 2013 at 11:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. ser

    i make my own cheese.....and cut it too...LOL

    December 6, 2013 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. lolita from rhode island

    total BS!!!!! go to a framers market and you'll see how expensive the produce is. Organic veggies are only for the rich and famous. Just take a trip to whole foods to eat "healthy" stuff, and you will see what I mean.

    December 6, 2013 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Thea

      Shopping at Whole Foods for healthy food is like buying toys at Toys R Us. More expensive than anywhere else. Organics arent a luxury for the rich. As a family of 5 on a single income we eat organic for about $100 a week. It just takes a little planning.

      December 6, 2013 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • Cj

      I have two pots on the back balcony with cabbage, lettuce, swiss chard, and other greens. These get changed out for other veggies in the winter months. Farmers markets are great, but so is growing a bit of your own food. Look for community garden plots if you live in an apartment. Alternatives exist. We did it during WWII,, supplementing our diet with home-grown food why can't we do it now?

      December 6, 2013 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
    • Philipp10

      Thinking you have to go to Whole Foods is your first mistake. Eating healthy is about reducing (not eliminating) processed foods, less carbs etc and increasing fruits and veggies and beans, lentils etc. And organic is off the table. As far as farmer markets, my experience is they are somewhat cheaper and can be really cheap when a produce is in abundance. Its not cheap to eat processed foods. Beans and rice are very low cost and healthy.

      December 8, 2013 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
  34. JS

    One thing that was not addressed by this study was the time factor. It's not just having that extra $1.50 a day, it's having the luxury of time to plan and prepare meals. Veggies need cleaning, peeling, chopping, cooking; bread needs to be kneaded, allowed to rise, baked in the oven for an hour; soup needs to be simmered for a certain length of time, etc. Cooking food at home is time-consuming. Then there is the cleanup afterwards which is an additional time factor. I myself work full time. I also cook most (not all ) of my family's meals at home rather than eating out or buying prepared food, and it's more time and energy consuming than you'd think.

    For someone working long hours at a minimum wage job just to keep their family afloat, I could see where it can be difficult to find the time or energy to prepare all your meals from scratch. Especially when you also have to clean the house, take care of the kids, do laundry and all the other day to day stuff. So it's not just the issue of that extra dollar or two a day to eat healthier, it's having an extra hour of time for preparation and cleanup of healthy home-cooked meals.

    December 6, 2013 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Taylor Kundtz

    I think we should have Bob Dylan for president.

    December 6, 2013 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Taylor Kundtz

      No idiot we need John Lennon

      December 6, 2013 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
  36. mary

    It may be 1.50 more per person per day according to thier calculations , but that does not take into account the hours worth or energy cost in gas or electric to cook it , nor does it take into account the hour needed to prep it to cook. Both of which many many working poor do not have or cannot afford to pay for

    December 6, 2013 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Relictus

      I have to wonder at people who cannot cook a cup of rice or make a PB&J sandwich. Or scrambled eggs. Heck, bananas just require you to peel them ... and who cannot make toast?

      December 8, 2013 at 01:22 | Report abuse |
    • Dan3333333

      Just finished making dinner for my family of 4. 16 0z of 90/10 ground turkey...$3.29, can of tomato sauce and paste $1.70, lb, fresh broccolli $1.89, 6 pieces of bread with cheese, $.80, italian seasoning. $.50 and $1 fo lb of whole wheat spag. after tax $10 and I have leftover lunch tomorrow.

      December 8, 2013 at 20:01 | Report abuse |
  37. Bill

    True Story, Man and woman looking for a cake for their 1 year old baby. "Can we get this decorated cake with a toy on it with our EBT Card (food stamps)?" says the lady. Bakery worker says "Yes, but do you know that cake is $50 ?" Man says "We will take the $30 cake (with the toy on it)"
    Most US citizens are not starving, if they are it is by their own hand. EBT, WICKS, FOOD BANKS, Shelters, Salvation Army, General Assistance etc... etc

    December 6, 2013 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Christy

      It kills me when businesses put up "EBT Accepted Here" signs – In my town Papa Murphy's Pizza and Payless shoes accept EBT. I don't believe people should be able to buy junk food or SHOES with their food stamps... let alone decorated bakery cakes that cost 5x more than one from scratch or even a boxed mix...

      December 6, 2013 at 14:58 | Report abuse |
  38. cali girl

    Made Pea Soup the other day. Dry Split peas 1 pound $1.50, 2 carrots and bunch of celery, $2.50. 2 potatoes, $0.40. Half pound bacon the cheap stuff, $4.50. 6 cups Chicken Broth, $5.00. All for this pot of soup to equal 9 cups is $13.90, or $1.54 cup. However, most of my family had 2 cups or more, so their meal was averaged to $3.75. Albeit from the bacon, everything about this soup came from vegetables and broth that can be hand made or purchased. This soup is healthy and a big hit, but not even cheap.

    December 6, 2013 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      2 meal deals from a fast food joint would cost you $14, I'd say you did good, keep it up.

      December 6, 2013 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
    • cotter

      exactly I usually buy food as close to the natural form as possible
      this is not expensive
      and unorganic fruits and vegs (which I never buy) are still healthier and cheaper then chips, candy, etc...

      December 6, 2013 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
    • Relictus

      If you had skipped the extremely expensive bacon, the price would be less than $1 a cup. Turkey bacon is cheap and delicious, plus healthier. $2.50 per pound. That would have raised the cost to barely over a dollar per cup.

      December 8, 2013 at 01:25 | Report abuse |
    • Philipp10

      you didn't need the bacon. Way to expensive and at least to me, I would prefer without it

      December 8, 2013 at 11:19 | Report abuse |
    • cali girl

      Relictus, I stood at the bacon refrig center, and 4.50 was the cheapest. Most expensive for a pound was $9.75 The bacon fat was used to saute the vegetables, so the fat content was pretty low.

      December 9, 2013 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
    • momsRus

      You might want to check out buying chicken broth on Amazon...even if you decided to purchase the organic vegetable broth, it sounds like you'd be saving money given the $1.25/cup price you just quoted.

      December 9, 2013 at 23:37 | Report abuse |
  39. reality hurts

    The cost is not what makes people chose poor food options. next time you are at a buffet, watch the overweight person. they will load up the cheapest food( which is usually also the most processed and highest calorie) and avoid the vegetables. its not cost, its a choice. Until people change their thinking on this, everyone is wasting time.

    December 6, 2013 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ally

      I've noticed that too, reality hurts.

      I noticed it a couple of years ago while at a buffet. I love vegetables and don't eat much meat so I like buffets so I can jam my plate with the veg. But I rarely see another person waiting behind me to get the braised cabbage...of course...I know restaurants soak their vegetable dishes in butter, so still not the best for you.

      December 6, 2013 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
  40. Southern Girl

    So far only one other person commented on food deserts and that is a huge problem. Working at a lower than living wage and then having to spend extra time to take unreliable public transportation adds significant costs to the overall bill.

    December 6, 2013 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cj

      Perhaps the lack of responses about "food deserts" could be remedied by a later article in the CNN Health section that centers around that topic. Many people don't understand what this is. It is a major problem, not having access to healthy food, and I've seen it in both urban and suburban areas of the U.S.

      December 7, 2013 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
  41. Ally

    I applaud the effort to do a study about cost of healthy vs non-healthy food, but there are so many variables to consider!

    Anecdotally, I've done the math pricing out a week of my meals if I would choose to eat healthy vs un-healthy and it was much cheaper to eat healthy. But maybe my choices aren't typical?

    If we're talking about the poor eating better I see no reason why we need to go for organic anything. Just adding produce will be good health boost with much less cost. Meat in general can be cut back quite a bit. I rarely use meat as the main portion of a meal, so it's a very small amount of my grocery budget. Cooking pretty much anything from scratch is cheaper than buying fast food or pre-packaged anything. So I'm curious why the study found eating healthy costs more.

    That being said, I'm sure they didn't include the gas/electric and water use increase for people cooking 3 square meals a day instead of one or none. When you're poor you have to consider that too.

    December 6, 2013 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. kayakcoach

    A decent article and lots of good posts as follow-up. Choosing healthier options should be a natural one though too many generations of hand-outs without direction has contributed to the problem.
    I agree that healthy eating, living etc keeps us at work (fewer days ill), out of the physicians office (not sick all the time) and in shape (clothes – not tents). Have seen too many things in my 50+ years, such as food stamp person getting into new cars, obese, having multiple kids, smoking, binge drinking and so forth to feel too sorry for those who take without personal responsibility.
    I speak from experience; family received food stamps when I was in young though we ate healthy foods. I was overweight (lazy) for a time and dropped 50 lbs by getting back to what I know felt much better, and have maintained that for better than 30 years now.
    Bottom line – it is a choice.
    Oh, one other thing. What about all the trash left behind by fast food eaters? I mean, all the Styrofoam and cups all over roadsides; horrible! Same people.
    end of my rant...

    December 6, 2013 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. AnnF

    One thing that doesn't seem to have been taken into account is the impact Schildren's school breakfasts/lunch programs. Just looked at the local high school's online menu and, while one could argue about how "healthy" some of the standard meals are, there are lots of options. The standard total cost of breakfast+lunch is $3.20 and the reduced price total is $0.70.
    So, for part of the year, that $1.50 more per day for children to "eat healthy" may be high. And when they are on summer vacation, the price of fresh vegetables is lower.

    December 6, 2013 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Dizzyd

    I love all these self-righteous ppl who equate poor with lazy and fat with lazy. It must be so easy to go thru life with your mind already made up so you can smugly write others off and simply not care about them. Once again the 'compassionate Christian conservatives' shoot themselves in the foot.

    December 6, 2013 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Eating healthy cost too much

    A $1.50/day does not sound like much but in reality it is barrier for the poor people who need it the most. Take a family of 4, eating healthy would cost an extra $2190/year. I doubt that many poor families have an extra $2190/year. The cheapest food is full of fat and sugar, which causes the most health problems. The health problems in turn mean that money has to be spent on treating their health problems caused by the lousy food that they eat.

    It would make more sense for the government to make sure that everyone can eat healthy food and it would save billions in healthcare dollars every year. The only problem is that many people make a lot of money off of poor nutrition and the medical problems. The US currently spends about $2,000 billion a year on healthcare. So how do you get the health care industry to spend the money on healthy food instead of expensive health care? MONEY RULES!!!

    December 6, 2013 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Slim Alberto

    $1.50 is less than what the Republicans propose cutting per day per person from the SNAP program. I wonder how they sleep at night?

    December 6, 2013 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Republicans do not care about ordinary people

      Republicans do not care about the poor or even the middle class. Cutting food stamps is the normal for a Republican while spending more on war is wonderful.

      December 6, 2013 at 19:48 | Report abuse |
    • Dan3333333

      Actually slim its not, they want the cuts to come from reducing fraud, which there is a ton of. The O's temporary $32 increase has expired, because according to the WH we are in a huge recovery. That reduction took a family of 4 from $660 to $630 roughly $157 a week, add in a job and you are great. I feed my fam. on a budget of $600 a month.

      December 8, 2013 at 20:15 | Report abuse |
  47. Sheltie Shrink

    What wasn't considered: many markets (fewer "super" markets) in poor U.S. urban areas carry very little in fresh produce–and it costs relatively more there. Transportation costs to get to supermarkets that do carry fresh produce (many urban poor do not have cars and depend on public transportation) were not considered and up the cost differential for those coming from poor areas. And, with cuts to unemployment benefits and food stamps, how will poorer individuals afford the healthy diet?

    December 6, 2013 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. bill

    Well 1.50 seems a bit low...maybe 1.50 per person per meal, but this is still likely low. And...I would only want to make this comparison if you are cooking it all at home, healthy and other wise. It is very easy to fill up for very little money if you eat fast food, but I would hardly call it food. Not counting beer or wine I can prepare a healthy dinner for two for less than 20 most days...so probably half the cost of eating a similar meal out.

    December 6, 2013 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. ThomasE

    What's more expensive, A turkey burger, vegetables and rice or a triple bypass from too many happy meals? Ooops, never mind, being obese and having health issues are no longer a pre-existing condition.

    December 6, 2013 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. ThomasE

    Here's an example dinner for ~ 3 , Brocolli 1$, rice $1.50/lb, beans .69c/can, Water $69c/gallon (choose tap if necessary) Total $3.19. Meal for 1 approximately $5 at McHeartattack. I can eat healthy for less than $10/day. However, that would require cooking, which equals work, which most lazy people don't want to do. It is much easier to order a pizza and sit on your butt.

    December 6, 2013 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Republicans do not care about ordinary people

      Many poor do not have a kitchen. So exactly how they suppose to cook anything?

      December 6, 2013 at 19:50 | Report abuse |
    • momsRus

      Well, if I didn't have a kitchen, I'd buy a crockpot. You could get them for $10 last Friday. Microwaves, George Foremen grills...all good choices. I'm not saying it is easy. Just possible. Ever been a college student?

      December 6, 2013 at 22:58 | Report abuse |
1 2 3

Leave a Reply to WTHWTH


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.