Is the Economy Making You Get Fat?
© 2021 Health Realizations, Inc.
With budgets tightening across the nation, health professionals are concerned that the covid economy is going to impact more than American’s food bills - their waistlines too. As costs increase it’s a given that many may reduce the amount they’re spending on food, but experts say this could lead to increased consumption of unhealthy foods.
Obesity and unhealthy eating often go hand-in-hand with low incomes because the cheapest foods also tend to be the most fattening.
Numerous studies have linked obesity and unhealthy eating to increased cost of food and or stead or low incomes when inflation occurs with higher food prices. This is because when food spending goes down, families often cut back on more expensive items such as fresh fish, fruits, meats, vegetables and whole grains -- in short, healthier foods -- and instead opt for lower priced junk foods high in sugar and refined grains.
"In Seattle we have found that there are fivefold differences in obesity rates depending on the zip code -- the low-income zip codes have a much higher proportion of obese people," Adam Drewnowski, the director of the Nutrition Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle, told Reuters.
Drewnowski also pointed out studies in California that estimated a 10 percent rise in poverty is linked to a 6 percent increase in obesity among adults.
Perhaps mimicking this trend, a Reuters article pointed out that McDonald’s -- king of low-priced meals high in empty calories -- had a “better-than-expected third-quarter profit, helped by a 7 percent jump in global sales.”
"The reality is that when you are income constrained the first area you try to address is having enough calories in your diet. And cheap sources of calories tend to be high in total fats and sugars," said Eileen Kennedy, the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University outside Boston, in a Reuters article.
As Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has observed, "America's problem today is not that households consume too little; on the contrary ... it is clear we consume too much."
The problem is that we’re often consuming too many foods that are bad for our health, though cheap, and too little of the pricier items that nourish our bodies.
Fortunately, it’s possible to eat healthy even on a budget … and we’ve compiled some of the top tips to help you do so here.
10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy
Focus your budget on fresh foods. Meat, dairy and produce are healthy staples that should take up the majority of your food bill. A rule of thumb is to shop the perimeter of the store. This is where you’ll find the basics like produce, meat, dairy and bread.
Avoid costly processed foods. Packaged cookies, chips, candy and other junk foods are often pricy. Avoiding them, or making your own home-made variety, can save you plenty.
Try a discount grocery store, such as Aldi. Though their selection is smaller than typical grocery stores, Aldi claims their prices are 40 to 50 percent lower than most supermarket chains, and 16 to 24 percent less than big discounters like Wal-mart and Costco.
Consider joining a local food coop. Often, you'll get fresh organic produce, eggs, dairy and grass-fed meets for less than you could ever find them in a store. LocalHarvest.org is a great resource to find a food co-op near you.
Buying in bulk lets you buy exactly how much you need, often at lower prices.
Finally, keep in mind that basic, whole foods are always a healthier option to fast-food value meals. Drewnowski recommends families focus on the affordable and healthy foods that saw Americans through the Depression of the 1930s.
His “diet for a new depression” includes “affordable but nutrient-rich foods such as ground beef, beans, milk, nuts, cheese, carrots, potatoes, canned tomatoes, soups, and rice.”