The idea that junk food is cheaper than healthy food is something I hear a lot. Fueled by fast food dollar menus, we are conditioned to think of healthy food as more expensive. In this article, we are taking a closer look.
The actual cost of junk food
Is junk food cheaper? Initially, it is true, the price per calorie of junk foods is cheaper than healthier fresh foods. But this does not tell the whole story.
More often than not, junk food drains our energy and makes us unproductive. Whether you are an employee or run your own business, the daily cost of lost productivity is significant.
Personally, junk food makes me feel tired and sluggish for hours afterward. Before changing my diet in 2008, I experienced sugar crashes and often had to push myself through the workday. Furthermore, as a result of inflammation, I developed acid reflux, prediabetes, chronic pain, and other preventable health issues.
Although fast food meals, cookies, candy, and sugary beverages are tasty and cheap, we are more likely to pay in many other ways.
Typical costs associated with poor nutrition:
- Chronic tiredness and fatigue
- Dependence on prescriptions drugs
- Greater risk of medical problems
- Time off work & lost income
- Loss of independence
- Impact on family & quality of life
Let’s look at the big picture and talk about the long-term costs of poor nutrition. When we factor in the costly health consequences of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, what’s better for our budget today becomes ridiculously expensive tomorrow.
Fast food meals are cheap, but they are usually rich in highly processed meat, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and salt. Such meals are loaded with calories but low in nutritional value. Globally, this is causing an undesirable effect, especially in children, who are experiencing the rising trend of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. [Ref 1]
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report showing health care and financial costs of chronic disease. For example, the #1 condition, cardiovascular disease, costs the U.S. health care system $214 billion per year and $138 billion of lost productivity in the workplace. The report also showed the cost of diabetes in 2017 was $327 billion in medical costs and lost productivity combined. [Ref. 2]
Unhealthy food steals from our pockets and erases our best years. However, through our choices, we can enjoy an entirely different experience.
Eliminating junk food is not an easy decision, but almost certainly, you’ll notice a change in your energy. For me, having more energy is one of the most significant immeasurable benefits of a healthy diet.
Ultimately, healthy food saves our valuable time and financial resources for what matters most—our loved ones, professional productivity, personal goals, and giving back to our communities.
If this information motivates you, share it on your social media pages today.
Bahadoran Z, Mirmiran P, Azizi F. Fast Food Pattern and Cardiometabolic Disorders: A Review of Current Studies. Health Promot Perspect. 2016;5(4):231-240. doi:10.15171/hpp.2015.028
Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases | CDC. Published January 12, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/costs/index.htm
Carla Hightower, MD, MBA is a physician, health coach, workplace wellness consultant, and speaker. She helps people heal themselves with food. Through wellness workshops and courses, she helps companies create healthy, energetic teams.
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