Fruits & veggies are less expensive than ‘junk foods’?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
When you compare the price per average amount consumed of fruits and vegetables with less healthy foods, fruits and vegetables are typically less expensive.
WHAT WE KNOW
Children eat 200 calories more per day than they did in the 1970s. Most children consume three (3) snacks per day which are often high-calorie, low-nutrient foods such as desserts and salty snacks. The increase in portion sizes of foods as well as sedentary lifestyles has contributed to the increase in incidents of children being overweight or obese. The taste and convenience of less healthy snacks are contributing factors to this epidemic. Most Americans do not consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. One reason is the perception that fruits and vegetables are expensive compared to other snacks. Research has shown when you compare the price per average amount consumed of fruits and vegetables with less healthy foods, fruits and vegetables are typically less expensive. New analysis is demonstrating that replacing less healthy snack foods with fruits and vegetables can keep your budget on track while keeping your children healthy.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
Researchers selected twenty less healthy snack items and twenty fruit and vegetable items that children (6-13 years old) reported consuming in the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) studies. The less healthy snack items included salty and sweet foods, baked goods and frozen treats, and the fruit and vegetables list contained both processed and fresh varieties. Researchers then substituted the less healthy snack items with the fruit and vegetable options. For example, 4.1 ounces of ready-to-eat pudding was replaced with ½ cup of baby carrots. This swap saved 130 calories and 19 cents. They found that most substitutions reduced calorie intake from snacks and had little effect on cost. On average, the fruit and vegetable food items were 31 cents per portion where the unhealthy snacks were 33 cents per portion. They projected that if these substitutions were made daily for one month, that would equate to 3,780 less calories consumed which is equivalent to one less pound of body weight.*
Fruits and vegetables are perceived as being more costly than less nutrient dense foods, such as salty and sweet snacks. Research has shown that Americans following a 2,000 calorie per day diet can purchase the amount and variety of fruit and vegetables recommended by the USDA in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for only $2.00 to $2.50 a day!
Here are a few ways to engage your family in a healthy lifestyle without breaking the bank …
* Frazao, Elizabeth, Hayden Stewart, Jeffrey Hyman, et al. “USDA ERS – Gobbling Up Snacks: Cause or Potential Cure for Childhood Obesity?” USDA Economic Research Service
. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dec. 2012. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. View Article