Health and Human Services Women's Health

It’s Cheaper. It’s Better. So Why Aren’t We Eating Healthy?

According to an article published by Ragan’s Health Care Communication News, it is apparent that many consumers have a jaded perspective when it comes to eating healthy foods. The article, “The truth about eating healthy for patients,” suggests that many consumers avoid foods that are actually healthier for their bodies, and instead opt for poorer quality items. This pattern is due in part to the perception of consumers that healthier foods are more expensive than those of lower nutritional value.

Jason Stemm, the author of the article, discusses this misperception by saying that “most fruits and vegetables, and other healthy foods, [actually] cost less than foods high in fat, sugar, and salt.” Nonetheless, a national poll of women by ShopSmart magazine stated that 88% of women make excuses for not eating healthy food with 57% placing the blame on cost.

In reference to general consumers, Stemm puts the challenge in these terms: “If they buy a bag of chips for $2, they think it’s a good deal, but if they buy a bag of apples for $2, they think it’s a lot. We need to do more to help people understand that fruits and vegetables are not as expensive as they think they are.”

Aided in part by this skewed perception, individuals’ nutritional health is plummeting and, as a result, “the number of obese adult Americans is expected to increase 20 percent by 2030, [making] a whopping 42 percent of the nation.” Of course, it is important not to oversimplify the challenge of getting American’s to eat healthy diets. The issue goes far beyond the fact that people think healthy foods are expensive. But that is one contributing factor.

Many people who fully understand the negative effects associated with unhealthy food consumption  continue to practice poor eating habits, even though they also understand the benefits of eating well include increased productivity, happiness, and overall wellness. It is perplexing. The truth is that many of us find emotional benefits in eating crap! We like to indulge and we feel that we deserve indulgences. (I know that only applies to some of us. Perhaps we are the low hanging fruit. We know better and yet…)

The battle has to start with awareness, because there are misperceptions out there – not everyone is well informed. There are people who don’t have good information about healthy eating and who haven’t grown up in homes where healthy eating is modeled. (Truth be told, until recently healthy eating wasn’t modeled in most hospitals in America.) To make consumers more aware of the importance of eating well, Shopping Matters, a program by Share our Strength, is taking on the initiative to help “low income families navigate the store to find healthy, affordable foods.” Below is a video from Shopping Matters.

According to Stemm, “The truth is healthy eating is a choice we make each day that impacts the rest of our lives and those around us.” Stemm’s plea is that we should start to think seriously about what we induce into our bodies. Our future literally depends on it.

What are your thoughts? Is Stemm over-simplifying a complex social and economic issue? We wonder. To read Jason Stemm’s article on Ragan’s Health Care Communication News, click here.

(Post written by Dan Dunlop with Charles Ramsey, Jennings Healthcare Marketing Intern and Wake Forest University student)

7 comments on “It’s Cheaper. It’s Better. So Why Aren’t We Eating Healthy?

  1. Another great blogpost, Dan. You’ve made so many good points. There is definitely an emotional element to food that makes it hard to break old habits. A successful change in diet to reduce obesity will be based on awareness, education AND some kind of counseling. And it won’t hurt if more people can grow their food. How is your garden going this year? — Dan Hinmon

    • dandunlop

      Thanks Dan. This story is close to me because I’m working to more actively manage my health, eat right and exercise. I’ve reached that age where I need to pay attention to how I live my life. It is so easy to fall into those bad habits, particularly when traveling on business.

  2. Pingback: Healthy Eating: Use Your Intuition « Holistic Health & Living

  3. Pingback: Annual Study of Food Attitudes & Perceptions | Enlightened Lotus Wellness

  4. CHICAGO-Consumers are more conscious than ever of their own nutritional deficits, and what poor eating habits can do when it comes to their long-term wellness. As a result, today’s consumers are seeking out healthy meals with greater urgency; however, doubting or confused consumers are unlikely to spend reasonably limited for healthier food, making it hard for producers to justify investment in nutritional or ingredient upgrades, according to some new Mintel report.

  5. Great, enlightening article and so true. The apples and chips example just opens your eyes wide and makes you nod in agreement. Education is paramount in the weight loss arena and there are way too many people who believe bad weight loss “myths” that are or have been circulating in the general public.

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