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Meta-Analysis: Healthier Diet Patterns Do Cost More

Comparing extremes of food-based patterns, healthier diets cost about $1.50 more per day

MONDAY, Dec. 9, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Healthy food/diet patterns cost more, according to a meta-analysis published online Dec. 5 in BMJ Open.

Mayuree Rao, from Brown University in Providence, R.I., and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review and meta-analysis to examine the prices of healthier versus less healthy foods/diet patterns. Mean retail prices of foods were extracted, adjusted for inflation and World Bank purchasing power parity, and standardized to the international dollar.

The researchers found that based on 27 studies from 10 countries the largest price differences were seen for meats/protein; with healthier options costing $0.29/serving and $0.47/200 kcal more than less healthy options. Among other food groups, smaller price differences were seen per serving for healthier versus less healthy foods: grains ($0.03), dairy (−$0.004), snacks/sweets ($0.12), and fats/oils ($0.02), with all differences statistically significant (P < 0.05 each). The price differences were not significant for soda/juice ($0.11; P = 0.64). Healthier diets cost $1.48/day and $1.54/2,000 kcal more in an analysis of the highest versus the lowest quantile to compare food-based diet patterns. The price per day was not significantly different when comparing the top versus bottom quantile in nutrient-based patterns ($0.04; P = 0.916), but the price per 2,000 kcal was $1.56 more.

"Our findings highlight the nuanced challenges and the opportunities for reducing financial barriers to healthy eating," the authors conclude.

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