Study Confirms Healthy Diet Has High Price Tag

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The results of a University of Washington study showing the healthy diet recommended under federal nutrition guidelines may be more expensive than most confirmed what many Bay Area shoppers already knew.

Whether it’s brussels sprouts grown organically in Half Moon Bay or industrially grown broccoli shipped from farther away, a survey of the checkout lines in San Francisco garnered quick consensus that vegetables and fruits were already expensive even before the food pyramid was revamped in 2010.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Following new guidelines that call for more foods containing potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D and calcium would add hundreds more dollars to a consumer’s annual grocery bill, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Health Affairs.

Just boosting potassium in the diet could add $380 a year, while meeting the Vitamin D recommendation would add another $250, according to a survey of 1,300 shoppers in King County, Wash.

The researchers at the University of Washington’s Department of Epidemiology and its School of Public Health tracked their spending at Safeway and two other major supermarkets.

Shoppers at the Safeway in San Francisco’s Marina said they were not surprised that fruits and vegetables seemed like a luxury for many, given how much they shell out in any given week.

The study’s authors recommend that government food assistance programs offer coupons for produce to encourage healthier eating. They also suggest inexpensive ways to meet the new dietary guidelines such as potatoes and beans for potassium and fiber.

Other recent research suggests that when household budgets get stretched, fresh fruits and vegetables are usually among the first items scratched off the shopping list.

The lead researcher, Pablo Monsivais, criticized some of the marketing for a healthy diet–for example, the image of a plate of salmon, leafy greens and maybe some rice pilaf.

“We know more than ever about the science of nutrition, and yet we have not yet been able to move the needle on healthful eating,” he said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Holly Quan

More From CBS San Francisco

Get The New CBS SF Bay Area Local App
Got Our Weather App?

Listen Live