A study says many Americans would have to pay more for groceries if they followed federal nutritional guidelines.
Based on a survey of what 2,000 people in Washington state eat, taking in the recommended amount of only one nutrient would cost each person an additional $380 in groceries per year, the study says. Its author, Pablo Monsivais, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, told the Associated Press that people need guidelines they can afford to follow.
He 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 – and said a meal like that is not affordable for many Americans.
Given the expanding girth of Americans, making healthy food options widely available is a public health concern. In 2010, not one state in the U.S. had an obesity rate below 20 percent, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 12 states, mostly in the South, over 30 percent of people are obese. Ten years ago, only Mississippi had an obesity rate over 25 percent.
Other factors also influence obesity risk, among them education and minority status. Racial and ethnic minorities and people with lower education or income have the highest obesity rates, a 2011 study by the Trust for America’s Health found.
This confluence of factors indicates it’ll take a range of measures to stem the obesity crisis. Monsivais suggests presenting more realistic food choices and making it easier for people who receive government assistance to buy healthy foods, for example at farmer’s markets. He told NPR’s health blog affordable food suggestions would include items like lentils, cabbage, carrots, oranges and bananas.