A healthier diet for $1.50 more per day

The price of eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts averages around $1.50 per day more than a less-healthy diet, according to research from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH, told Harvard Magazine that this cost presents a significant barrier for about 30 to 40 percent of the population. However, the economic cost of diet-related chronic diseases is significantly more than the price of healthier food, he said in the article, which was published in the March-April 2014 issue. Therefore, it is in the public’s interest that everyone eats well, he said.

Mozaffarian was the senior author of a study about the cost of a healthy diet published online December 5, 2013 in BMJ (British Medical Journal) Open.

Mozaffarian advocates taxing unhealthy items such as sugary beverages and using the revenue to subsidize healthier food. In addition, he would like to see the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called the Food Stamp Program, adhere to sensible nutrition guidelines.

“That would have a transforming effect on the food supply,” he said. If SNAP recipients could no longer use their benefits to buy junk food, stores in their neighborhoods would have an incentive to replace chips and soda with healthier food. This “would improve the health not only of people on food stamps, but the health of the entire neighborhood,” Mozaffarian said.

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Eating healthy vs. unhealthy diet costs about $1.50 more per day (HSPH press release)