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How Expensive Is It To Eat Healthy? Study Crunches The Numbers

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SeanLee Sean Lee
Sean Lee joins WWJ Newsradio 950 as our new Health Reporter. Visit...
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DETROIT (WWJ) – People often say eating health costs more. Now, researchers are taking at a look at just how much more.

A Harvard School of Public Health study found the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 per-day more than the least healthy eating patterns they studied.

That’s not a huge amount if you’re dropping money daily on lattes and lunches out — but for families struggling to make ends meet, it can add up.

Talking to WWJ’s Sean Lee, Cardiologist Joel Kahn with Michigan Healthcare Professionals said making the effort to eat healthy is worth it compared to the cost of being sick.

“Heart disease is still that number one expense,” said Kahn, “and if we will simply increase our vegetable intake, plant intake — so, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — and lower our amount of animal intake, and do a little home cooking, you’ll save some dollars and clearly improve your health.”

“We gotta commit to take the time twice a week to go to the grocery store; get fresh fruit, fresh vegetables,” Kahn added. “Maybe twice a week make a big pot of stew or soup or brown rice or stir-fry vegetables that can sit in the refrigerator for a couple days and feed a family.”

The authors of the study say unhealthy diets may be cheaper because the focus is on producing a high volume of food at low costs. Given this, researchers say more must be done to support healthy foods production at high volumes. This would in turn, reduce prices for healthy food.

Kahn said changing policies that focus on disease treatment instead of prevention could also help make the cost of eating healthy more manageable.

“All these diseases: diabetes, arthritis, memory loss, most intestinal issues, heart disease, and cancer are 80 percent, 70 percent related to our poor American diet,” he said.

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