Low-cal foods cost more than high-cal foods

By Tom Nordlie • Published: April 14th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If it seems like produce prices are skyrocketing, it might not be your imagination.

According to a recent study, the cost of low-cal foods such as fruits and vegetables is rising faster than prices for other items.

What’s more, calorie-rich foods such as oils, nuts and fatty snacks may actually be getting cheaper.

As reported in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, prices have changed so fast that trends can be tracked over just a couple of years.

In the study, researchers checked retail prices on almost three-hundred-fifty foods, at chain supermarkets and other retailers in the Seattle area.

They made one survey in spring 2004 and another two years later.

Foods were classified into five groups, based on their energy density, measured in calories per gram.

Overall, prices for foods in the lowest energy density group increased by almost twenty percent.

Meanwhile, the cost of the highest energy density foods decreased by almost two percent.

Prices for the other three groups also increased.

The results have implications for the nationwide obesity epidemic.

If prices for fruits and vegetables rise disproportionately, people with limited resources may buy them less often.

Instead, their dollars may go to high-cal items such as peanut butter, bacon and tortilla chips, which seem like bargains by comparison.

That may help explain why the highest rates of obesity are found among the poor.

The lesson is clear… eating a balanced diet isn’t always easy. For you or your pocketbook.