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The cost of healthy eating: fact or fiction?

Home » The cost of healthy eating: fact or fiction?

By Dietitian Edwina McDonald


A barrier I often hear as to why people don’t eat healthily is that healthy food costs more than junk food.  Yes, there is an abundance of cheap unhealthy food available BUT if you actually sat down and weighted up the cost associated with eating junk food the minuscule amount extra you pay for healthy food far outweighs the long term detrimental effects of making unhealthy choices. So, what is the actual cost of buying healthy foods? A systematic review and meta-analysis of 27 studies from 10 different studies showed on average healthy diets cost a minuscule US$1.5 per day!

Even if that weren’t true, here are some other things to consider when looking at the costs associated with a healthy diet:

  1. Healthy diets tend to contain more fibre and whole grains which increase our satiety thus less of the food is needed to be consumed. Balancing satiety with calorie content, healthy foods win easily. You need less, higher quality food to feel as full for the same price.
  2. Today’s obesogenic environment have seen a rise in hospital costs associated with chronic disease including; type II diabetes, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. A healthy diet has been show to prevent and slow the progression of chronic disease. This saves you money in the long run.
  3. People can spend thousands of dollars each year on supplements to help them achieve optimal health. This could be significantly reduced if instead people focused on achieved their adequate intake for vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet

How to minimise the cost of healthy eating?

  • Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season
  • Frozen fruit and vegetables can also be a nutritious way to obtain antioxidants and fibre
  • Plan meals ahead of time and stick to your grocery list
  • Cook in bulk and freeze your leftovers

Eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank in the short term and eating healthy in the long term can reduce your risk of chronic diseases like obesity, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver and cardiovascular disease. If you need any advice on a low-cost healthy diet, or any other nutritional concerns come and see any of our Pinnacle Health Group practitioners.



Edwina McDonald is a Dietitian at 120 Collins and Docklands in Melbourne