Cost of Fruits and Veggies Hinders Healthy Diet in Poor

Government policy should make access to fruits and vegetables easier for low-income people

FRIDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The price of fruits and vegetables hinders some low-income families from meeting government dietary guidelines tightened two years ago to protect Americans from diabetes, some cancers and other chronic diseases, researchers report in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The new guidelines increase suggested daily fruit and vegetable servings from five to nine.

Diana Cassady, Ph.D., of the University of California at Davis, and colleagues compared the average price of a market basket of fruits and vegetables and other data involving 25 supermarkets selected according to census data reflecting a range of incomes at three seasonal time periods in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

The researchers found that the market basket suggested in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines cost markedly less in bulk supermarkets ($59) and low-income neighborhoods ($65) than in other supermarkets, and the Thrifty Food Plan cost 4 percent more. A low-income family would have to spend between 43 percent and 70 percent of their food budget on fruits and vegetables to meet the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.

"Public policies should examine ways to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to low-income families," the authors write.

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