Junk Food Vs. Healthy Food: Which is More Expensive?

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There is a popular notion that it is cheaper to eat unhealthy foods than healthy foods (fruits, vegetables and organic food), and that the astounding difference in costs determine the diet habits of a lot of people – especially of low-income families. According to Harvard School of Public Health researchers, the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets.

However, healthy foods are often much less expensive than junk foods when compared with health costs of eating an unhealthy diet. The price difference is very small, the Harvard researchers found, in comparison to the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases, which would be dramatically reduced by healthy diets.

Dr Michael Greger, founder of NutritionFacts.org and author of New York Times Best Seller How Not to Die, insists that healthy foods cost less than junk foods. While junk food may be four times cheaper than healthy foods, he says, you get 20 times less nutrition. In the video below, Dr Greger describes how when measured on a cost per serving, cost per weight, or cost per nutrition basis  fruits and vegetables beat out meat and junk food.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. only $1.50 a Day,Which is $10.50 a week, which is $42 dollars a month. hmmmmm when you look at the whole picture yes it is cheaper to eat unhealthy foods just like they want us to eat since unhealthy foods are easy to pack with sugars (sugar,Carbs, ect)

    • Where do you get junk-food for 1.50? The cheapest junkfood around here is 3.50 and that’s not for an entire day, need at least two portions of that.

      Cooking yourself (healthy and organic) is seldomly more than 3.00 a day. – If you cook justwith prices in mind you can get by on 1.00 a day.

        • Lol, I love how big corporations, agrochemical, medical and pharmaceutical companies have coopted the terms “conventional” and “traditional”… As if THEY have been around for thousands of years! All of these industries have STOLEN those titles and now marginalize the proven traditional and time tested conventional ways to grow food, and heal oneself. One day the masses will wake up to the fact that these profit driven corporatcracies don’t give a rat’s ass about anybody or anything but themselves. They will continue to pollute, poison and profit, while the people and the planet suffer. One day. Maybe. Some say it’s hopeless, but I have to believe there will be a breaking point, where the vast majority of people will die in a total collapse of the ecosystem, leaving only those who are both lucky, and know how to survive, alive.

  2. I’d ask for a break-down of how you figure only a difference of $1.50, but I’m sure it doesn’t exist since the number was totally made up. Healthy foods are WAY WAY more expensive than junk food. Hot dogs, for example, are about $1 for an 8-pack out here. The same number of calories worth of fruits and veggies would probably cost you more like $10-20!

    • Why would you compare the price per kcal between hotdogs and fruits/vegetables? Of course fruits/vegetables are way more expensive per kcal; their value is in vitamins/minerals not in energy (with some fruits being the exception). Try eating enough carrots to meat your daily kcal demand.

      You’re better off comparing it to another high energy source like organic whole-wheat breads and pastas and I think you’ll find that the price gap is less pronounced. Not to mention that you get a lot of other nutrients you don’t get in the $1 hotdog pack.

    • Oh, this is easy. Hotdogs for a buck may look like a deal but, that is only one pound of crap. I expect you are going to buy buns and have the usual condiments and I think i is fair to assume that chips, fries or baked beans would accompany the so called cheap meal along with maybe a can of corn. Fair enough?

      I can give hundreds of healther recipes but, I will state two meals that are healthier and cheaper. And I am not talking beans and rice here.

      You buy hotdogs for a dollar, I pick up chicken thighs for 79 cents on sale.
      You buy hot dog buns for $1.99, I buy rice for 50 cents a pound. You use condiments I use teriyaki your side can be anything from a bag of chips to potato salad, I just need a bag of stir fry veggies for a buck fifty and I win. You get shit food and I get teriyak stir fry over rice and have change left fot a simple dessert. Not only that, I have bones and skin left for a chicken stock.
      So, the next day I grab an onion, bulk carrots, celery and either left over rice or and handful.of noodless or make some dumplings for pennies. That would be 4 bucks to feed 4.
      Now one closer to the $1.50 that you claim is false, despite the fact I showed otherwise.

      So, you can put your 6 dollar hotdog dinner up again for a family of four. I can do from scratch burritos, McDonald’s style.burgers, We.can go really healthy and do lentil soup, poached fish with salad and baby potatoes, pan seared pork sirloin with apples all within the buck fifty you claim is false. Hell, even mac and cheese is cheaper than Kraft. And I will do it on less than 6 bucks for four people. I do do it. I feed a family of 6 on less than 400 bucks a month and we eat well and helthy. Not to say we don’y like a good hotdog now and then and sometimes we get lazy too and want some junk but, don’t tel me that healthy costs more, it does not.

      Tips: learn to cook, I mean really cook, from scratch. Homemade tortillas cost pennies and are easy. A dozen burger buns costs 75 cents or less when made from scratch.
      Run a pantry so you can run your kitcjen on good deals. We never pay full price, EVER. Stay ahead by buying double when on sale.
      Buy your veggies in season and adjust your menu to reflect that. Frozen broccoli is never less than $1.50 a pound frouen and that is poor quality.(most.bags are 12 oz’s now) But, fresh goes on sale for $0.79 all the time. Buy a bunch and freeze some.

      SO, NEVER tell me me shit food is cheaper, it is not true and is a lazy argument and I have 5 kids and I work full time @70 hours a week and I cook, and I eat better and save money. There is nothing a processed food factory can make that is not cheaper to do from scratch.

      • I agree. I can feed my family of 5, 2 adults 3 teens, on $10 dinners. It’s like you said. Nice pork roast with potatoes and veggies, chicken dinners, less than $10 for sure. Just base meals on what is on sale and COOK something. No way I could feed us all at a fast food restaurant for $10.

      • I am a master chefs assistant and i beg to differ. I have created full meals both ways, and I am talking basic foods not extravagant ones, and no, it is far cheaper to buy the junk foods. This is actual life experience not some bloody study.

      • Beautifully articulated. I know junk food costs more because for years I couldn’t afford to buy any for my kids, even as a treat. Had to stick to buying healthy ingredients to make real food. Anyway, you said it better than I’m saying it, thank you.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree: cooking from scratch is much healthier way of eating. However, it’s not always that simple for a lot of folks. For example, many neighborhoods are considered a “food desert,” meaning there are no grocery stores in said neighborhoods. These same neighborhoods will have convenience stores and fast food places that sell cheap, albeit unhealthy, food. I’m sure that’s not the case for everyone; I’m just pointing out the fact that eating healthily is not always an easy thing to accomplish.

  4. A lot of you nay sayers are missing big key facts. Junk food = nutritionally void = malnourished = SICKNESS ILLNESS DISEASE. Healthy food is MUCH cheaper when you make it yourself. We eat plant based all week to save money, and eat a very small amount of chicken /eggs/ fish on the weekends. Not only are we pocketing money saved from making meals at home, but we are investing in the future of our health. I have been invested in good nutrition for a decade now and I have not been to the doctor in a decade. YOU LITERALLY ARE WHAT YOU EAT. ORGANIC IS TRADITIONAL – if you think otherwise than you have been brainwashed. WATCH FORKS OVER KNIVES and PURE PLANT NATION and COWSPIRACY and WAKE THE HECK UP

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