There are many reasons why is unhealthy food cheaper than healthy food. Firstly, junk food is eaten more by low-income families because it’s usually cheaper and easier to prepare than healthy food. The connection between poverty and obesity has been thoroughly documented for years now.
Secondly, soda companies may target ads towards people with lower income levels than others. The government also makes unhealthy food cheaper than healthy food by subsidizing corn crops (which are used to make high fructose corn syrup, fast food ingredients, and other processed foods).
On the other hand, fresh fruits and vegetables are usually grown with expensive fertilizers so they can be sold for higher prices. This means that there’s a global economic incentive to eat unhealthy foods and not healthy ones.
Why is unhealthy food cheaper than healthy food?
The price of healthy food is rapidly increasing. Obesity has become one of the biggest threats to global health, and malnutrition is an increasingly common death cause in third-world countries. The increase in obesity rates in wealthy countries can be attributed to lack-lustre diets.
It may come as little surprise that it is cheaper to fill up on junk food rather than the obligatory five-a-day, both in terms of price and nutrition.
The reason that junk food is cheaper to produce, package, and sell than healthier foods is that the barriers preventing such a market from forming are non-existent.
Even if it kills them, people will always eat, and healthy food is not seen as a necessity, as junk food is. In short, healthy food is seen as a luxury rather than a human right.
Here are some reasons why unhealthy food is cheaper than healthy food :
Many of the costs associated with junk food are externalized
The price of unhealthy food does not reflect the full cost of society. For example, it is often argued that subsidies on commodity crops are given to large food corporations so they can sell their product at a cheaper rate than healthier foods.
The costs associated with its manufacture and distribution
For example, obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease are more prevalent in poorer communities. Obesity-related diseases lead to higher spending on health care; therefore, taxing junk food would help reduce overall costs.
Healthier foods tend to require more packaging and processing, therefore increasing the cost of production and distribution.
The availability of healthy food depends on the financial capabilities of individuals or families. Therefore, availability tends to favor more calorie-dense and affordable food sources.
Fruit and vegetables, for example, are more expensive because they are vulnerable to disease, pests, droughts or natural disasters. This is further complicated by the difficulties in storing fresh produce over long periods of time.
In contrast, junk food is usually packaged and processed to have a long shelf-life.
Targeting the problem from another angle
In light of the modern food system that encourages people to eat unhealthy food, an alternative solution would be to improve the healthiness of existing foods rather than trying to change dietary patterns altogether. For example, improving the nutritional quality of white flour, which has been found to have a lower glycemic index than whole-wheat products.
The Bottom Line
The obesity epidemic is not only prevalent in the USA but all around the world. The increasing number of poor countries that are adopting Western food habits has caused malnutrition to become an increasing problem worldwide.
Junk food will continue to be cheaper than healthy alternatives until people stop buying it or governments take action against food industries that contribute to obesity and malnutrition.