Paying the Price of an Unhealthy Diet

By: Bel Marra Health | Diets | Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 09:16 AM

Unhealthy DietMost of us have probably thought, at one time or another, “wow, that trip to the grocery store was really expensive”, you then looked in your bags are saw apples, carrots, lettuce, whole wheat bread and so on.  The problem is that not everyone can afford to do this; many people can’t afford to eat healthy due to budget constraints.  The cost of food is continually on the rise and we need to be prepared to shell out a lot of cash for healthy food options.   There are a number of reasons being “blamed” for this – bad crops around the world, increased oil costs and increasing costs of commodities such as wheat and corn.  With the cost of healthy food being so high, where are people turning?  Well, they’re turning to junk food!

To give you a breakdown, according to the NYT Economic blog, for $5 you can buy 2000 calories of food at McDonalds, but it costs $19 to buy 2000 calories of canned tuna and $60 to buy 2000 calories of lettuce.  If you have to consume 2000 calories on a limited budget, which option are you going to choose? That’s right…McDonalds.  When looking at the cost per calorie, unhealthy food is significantly cheaper than healthy food.  Even in the grocery store you’ll notice it, people’s buggies will be filled with calorie rich foods – chips, salty snacks, TV dinners, frozen pizza, etc. and not with the nutrient rich foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables and organic meats.  If you question people, a common response you’ll hear is “eating junk food is cheaper” or “this is the food I can afford to buy”.

With the increasing number of people consuming fast food and other junk food, there are an alarming number of overweight and obese children and adults in the country.  Obesity is associated with a number of health concerns including: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease, and some forms of cancer among many other serious health conditions.  There is also a negative effect on your quality of life when you’re obese – there is a social stigma attached to obesity so you’re more likely to be depressed and be in pain both physically and emotionally.

While fast food and junk food may not be healthier for you, it’s definitely cheaper.  The healthcare costs that will be associated with the increasing number of obese people in Canada should raise concern for the government.  At some point, the Canadian government is going to need to step in and take control over the rising cost of healthy food options.  If they don’t, healthcare costs are going to sky rocket in the very near future because of all of the complications that arise from obesity.  It’s better to take control of the situation now, before it gets completely out of control.

In the meantime, if you’re opting away from junk food, but want fast food, there are some tips to get the healthiest meal out of the experience.  Salads are becoming more popular at most fast food chains as are whole wheat or rye bread products for sandwiches and buns.  Choose lean meat if you’re offered a selection and choose boiled over fried food if given the choice.  Avoid carbonated beverages and opt for fruit juices, low fat milk or water.


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