SEATTLE A recently released study from the University of Washington reports that the prices of high-calorie foods are less likely to be impacted by inflation. As a result, the cost of low-calorie foods can rise more readily with inflation and that could mean less access to healthy food options for lower income Americans.
Researchers at the University of Washington used funding from the USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service to study price trends at Seattle-area supermarkets. They compared the costs of around 370 foods by calorie density and price. They concluded that on average high-calorie foods cost less per calorie while low-calorie foods were more expensive. They also found trends that indicate that the price of high-calorie food is less likely to rise as a result of inflation, keeping high-calorie foods cheaper.
The researchers say that these findings may explain why calorie-dense foods are chosen more frequently by lower-income individuals.
“If you have $3 to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods which give you the most calories per dollar. Not only are the empty calories cheaper, but the healthy foods are becoming more and more expensive. Fresh vegetables and fruits are rapidly becoming luxury goods,” said Adam Drewnowski, director of the Center for Public Health and Nutrition at the University of Washington.