Why is it so expensive to be healthy?

Why are poor people in America so fat? Would you believe that farm subsidies have something to do with it?

Walmart is where lower income consumers come to shop. Why? Because you get the most bang for your buck. Walmart is also notorious for having the fattest customers. Why? It comes back to value - it turns out that unhealthiest food also gives you the most caloric bang for your buck.

Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about

I shop at a grocery store that borders on one of Seattle's ghettos. In case you are wondering, Seattle's ghettos are nothing compared to other urban ghettos. Meaning, you can safely walk through a Seattle ghetto. But that's where the majority of Seattle's urban poor live, and if you want to see food stamps in action, you should shop at my Safeway.

Food stamps are no longer in stamp form in Washington State - people are given debit cards that are referred to as "benefit cards". Benefits cards are usually easy to spot, if you are looking. But you don't have to look at a person's form of payment to know what social class they belong to - you need only look at their shopping cart, and their waistline. This is anecdotal, of course, but no doubt you've noticed this, too: poor people eat more crappy junk food than rich people.

There's a tendency in America to equate poor nutrition and subsequent obesity with a lack of education. It's familar logic: the poor aren't educated enough to work, so they stay poor. Being uneducated means that they don't know that Doritos are bad for you. Or, if you look to what a lot of us secretly think, the poor are simply too dumb to eat salad, too simple to know that Twinkies do not make a healthy meal.*

Why would someone who has so little money to spend go and spend it on packaged food? we wonder to ourselves. Don't they know what a waste of money it is to buy junk food?

We tsk tsk them in our heads. We load up our carts with loose leaf lettuce and portabella mushrooms, thinking ourselves superior for knowing better. Once we get to the checkout counter and see the total cost of our veggies, though, we probably do end up thinking: wow, it's really expensive to be healthy.

From the NY Times (via Consumerist):

As a rule, processed foods are more “energy dense” than fresh foods: they contain less water and fiber but more added fat and sugar, which makes them both less filling and more fattening. These particular calories also happen to be the least healthful ones in the marketplace, which is why we call the foods that contain them “junk.” Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly — and get fat.

Bang for your buck

It is expensive to eat well, even if you are only buying raw veggies. The truth is that lower income shoppers, and other populations that live on junk food, are getting more calories per dollar than the rest of us. It's economically efficient, if tragically perverse.

The reason, as the New York Times article explains, has to do with the Farm Bill, which heavily subsidizes soybeans, corn, and wheat - three major ingredients, or sources, of many of the ingredients in junk food. The result?

[T]he real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (aka liquid corn) declined by 23 percent. The reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the farm bill encourages farmers to grow.

So even foods that are more processed, that require more labor to produce, cost less. The article goes on to explain the origins of the Farm Bill and the detrimental, albeit unintended, effect it is having on our population.

The farm bill helps determine what sort of food your children will have for lunch in school tomorrow. The school-lunch program began at a time when the public-health problem of America’s children was undernourishment, so feeding surplus agricultural commodities to kids seemed like a win-win strategy. Today the problem is overnutrition, but a school lunch lady trying to prepare healthful fresh food is apt to get dinged by U.S.D.A. inspectors for failing to serve enough calories; if she dishes up a lunch that includes chicken nuggets and Tater Tots, however, the inspector smiles and the reimbursements flow. The farm bill essentially treats our children as a human Disposall for all the unhealthful calories that the farm bill has encouraged American farmers to overproduce.

Do click over and read the rest of the article. The author gives a good breakdown of calorie-per-dollar-spent between carrots and junk food.

It ends on a hopeful note, claiming that the resurgence in organic farming and local produce, combined with consumer demands and the American ideal of a free market economy, may give us a chance to reclaim our farming heritage and our health. I'm not sure that I'm so optimistic about our chances for revamping what seems like extremely complicated and pork-filled legislation.

(Picture by Colin Palmer)

*Because so many people keep reading this sentence and thinking that I actually believe that the poor are dumb, I'd like to point out that the sentence is meant to generalize about the way that many wealthy Americans think about the poor, NOT THE WAY THAT I FEEL ABOUT THE POOR. My god, people, do you really think a web site dedicated to helping readers learn how to save money would feature a writer who loathes the poor? GET A GRIP. And for the record, I'm pretty fat myself, so it's not like I'm making fun of anyone for eating badly.

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Andrea Karim's picture

Another blogger addressed this topic. Thanks for the linkage!

Guest's picture

What you failed to realize in your commentary is the vital and core fact of why people would choose the very food which are unhealthy. But they serve a very crucial function for so many people today who are starving from a lack of love and nurturing. Food is the last bastion to feed endorphins and dopamine levels in the brain. Food is the mechanism by which populations of the West are feeding their hunger for intimacy, their cravings for fullness and satisfaction. The very people who were deprived of breastmilk as infants - their first meal on earth - who were shoved a cold plastic bottle filled with who knows what - instead of being comforted by the giving, nurturing, enrichment of unconditional love via mother's milk and who are now scarfing down anything to fill the void.

That is the data you lacked in your piece. Please adjust future commentaries accordingly. For the sake of Truth at least.

Guest's picture

I breast-fed my first two children...I was not able to breast feed my 3rd for health reasons. My oldest has struggled with her weight since she started elementary school. My two younger ones are skinny as rails (yes, the one who had to be bottle fed is skinny.) This, in part, is due to their genes. And yes, it is hard to eat healthy these days. I spend, on average, $250.00 per week to feed a family of 5 nutrionally sound foods. I would spend less if I fed my family "junk" food. This is the "truth".

Guest's picture

You are also not taking a look at what the government deems appropriate for the most in need- our pregnant poor and the children.

They give out coupons for eggs, peanut butter, american cheese, fruit juices, milk, and cereal.

You would not believe the number of eggs given and the amount of juice.

I have one foster child in my home who qualifies for WIC food stamps-- the number of eggs given for a 2 year old is more than a family of 5 needs/uses. The juice is infinately more than 3 kids need.

I seem to recall article after article in all the papers and ladies magazines about limiting juices to prevent obesity- yet its paid for by the government and thrust upon the "poor". Talk about mixed messages...

Guest's picture

I understand that children need to eat healthy and learn good eating habits, however, people cannont blame WIC, or government help for children not eating healthy. Parents are the ones who need to teach good eating habits. I am tired of hearing from so many people that WIC does not do enough and neither does the LINK card. WIC gives so much juice, eggs, and milk becuase those are the BASIC foods that children need, and the parents are supposed to provide the rest.

I do not mean to disrespect anybody who uses government money, but people cannot be so picky about what they get for free. I work at a grocery store and probably about 98% of the people using WIC complain that they cant get the fancy cheese, they forget its not for them, its for the kids. What about the baby formula that costs $20 a can, thats not doing enough? Also, people with link and WIC almost always have nice clothes, have their nails done, and get unrealistic foods such as candy and birthday cakes, let their friends use it and so on. I dont work to support other people and their friends, i work to support myself. And the time when one of my customers told me i was taking advantage of the government because my register did not work, i think she and some other people as well need to rethink that, arent they taking advantage of the government, if anything, that customer should be thanking me for working, so she can get her groceries that week.

I am tired of people taking advantage of government money, and other people should be too, because its not only the governments money, its my money from when i stand there for 8 hours a day and i am working, i pay for their groceries and so do you by working. People just need to be a little bit more appreciative for FREE food.

Andrea Karim's picture

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

I'm not trying to cover all aspects of obesity in the US. Just one angle. The angle of healthy food being more expensive than cheap food, and the reason for that. That is all. Nothing more.

Anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, can have emotional problems that lead to unhealthy eating. Rich people also have eating disorders. But they have access to gyms and good doctors, too.

The point is that we often blame poor people for eating crappy food, when in fact, it's simply cheaper to eat really awful food. In a way, they are making an efficient and frugal choice, albeit with terrible consequences.

I don't think that emotional eating alone can explain the obesity epidemic that we face. So much more factors in: our sedentary lifestyles, our instant-gratification culture, the sheer size of our country (which makes is easier to drive around than to walk or ride a bike). The issue is too big to grapple with in a blog. I'm merely touching on one little section.

Guest's picture

I find your article extremely offensive for I am poor. I do NOT have a low intelligience, in fact, I was an A student in school. I know the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods. I don't have a car, most poor people don't, so I, like most poor people, are forced to walk around lugging bags of groceries on my back all the way home. You don't get fat from walking miles with heavy bags on your back.

You article insults me because you say how "dumb" and "obese" poor people are. I can only afford foods such as "top ramen". I am not obese, I end up starving at the end of the month and barely scrapping by on instant soup. How about you try surviving on that or less? Your so ignorant it's sick.

So, in your opinion, the little babies in Africa who are starving, are they obese? The poor comunity is not all obese. I've seen the people around my town who are obese, and it's not the poor, it's the middle-class. Those are the ones who can actually aford to buy loads of junk food.

Geez, do your research before you start running your mouth. Also, grow a damn heart.

Guest's picture

It is an emotional outlet for every human being on earth. It is tied into our primal needs, connected to our instinctual hardwiring. It is quite frankly, designed to be our first emotional comfort on earth, but as per governmental/expert *advice* circa 1950-1980, bottles were shoved in the faces of infants born in the West, mothers being told how it was the same as mother's milk and how not to feel guilty about going back to work and leaving the infant in the care of another. 98% of all addictions, disorders, violence can be traced back to whether or not the bonding experience between mother and baby was loving and consistent or was it a venue for rejection and artificial substitutes for maternal love. It is a matter so severe that it extends to virtually every aspect of our current lives and the events which we are witnessing. It is not an eating disorder either way - the fundamental issue is a priority disorder, where $ takes precedence over the welfare of our flesh and blood.


Andrea Karim's picture

I don't think this is purely a lactivist issue here. Does breastfeeding prevent obesity through eating addictions? I was breastfed, and I'm still chubby. Not because of emotional eating, but because back when I was unemployed, I ate a lot of junk food. Junk food and fast food were the cheapest ways to feel satisfied, and they are very addictive because of what they do to your blood sugar (they cause dramatic surges of insulin, which then cause sugar lows, making you crave lots of sugar again).

That, and I hate exercising.

98% of all addictions, disorders, violence can be traced back to whether or not the bonding experience between mother and baby was loving and consistent or was it a venue for rejection and artificial substitutes for maternal love.

I would love to see where you got this statistic. The idea that something like that could even be proven scientifically would amaze the hell out of me.

Guest's picture

I'm sorry if my replies yesterday were a *tad* dramatic and overbearing and if I caused any bad vibes here. That wasn't where I was coming from.

Other than that, you might want to check out http://kuchinskas.typepad.com/hug_the_monkey/ and http://www.birthpsychology.com/primalhealth/primal13.html and any other resource for oxytocin - the hormone which is transferred between mother and infant and back again during breastfeeding and is later re-created (or unfortunately not) in other relationships. See also human bonding, relating, normative patternings etc. - virtually hard-wiring the brain and body for love, reciprocity, compassion or as was mentioned - pathology (addictions, disorders, criminal behaviors and others).
Positive behavior ~can~ be learned, healing can be achieved to a very high degree, however transformation of self, communities and world requires the re-wiring - re-prioritizing of our desires - and that can only be achieved via re-membering - re-connecting the severed parts (neurotransmitters and receptors of the 9 components of love - 9 amino acids formed in a chain).

Heavy stuff. But necessary to know that love is our birthright and it's high time it was realized.

Take care - joy

Guest's picture

I just wanted to add that when people have to work their butts off all day to survive (3 jobs, etc.), it's far easier to shove the cheap microwave mac & cheese at the kids and shovel some yourself before collapsing (in front of the boob tube, but that's another article). And then the kids don't learn to cook or prepare fresh food (much less grow it), and there you have a habitual cycle that continues through generations.

Boxed crap = food. What else is there? Flavorless salads for their salt-assaulted palates? Yeah, like they're going to choose that. =P

It takes a paradigm shift and unfortunately, money to realize what you should be eating and to learn to appreciate it and not crave the crap anymore... and to get access to the good stuff.

And the kids who are left to their own devices because the parents are so exhausted from this survival are the ones who do the emotional eating, too.

Poverty is the root of so many of our society's problems. We address it, and we'll see such improvements... It should be our first priority.

Andrea Karim's picture

It's just tragic that the easiest and cheapest food is the worst food for you. Addressing poverty is something that I doubt many wealthy Americans intend to really do.

Guest's picture
skidrow sally

All that crap about being emotionally starved is obviously coming from people who have no had the pleasure of dining on Top Ramen for a week. Just a week ago I had enough money for peanut butter & a loaf of bread, luckily I had jelly. Why because I had to save the rest of my money for gas to get to my job.

Guest's picture

Michael Pollan talks a lot about this in his recent book, an Omnivore's Dilemma - or so I've heard. I've read many interviews and listened to him on NPR several times and it sounds like this is a lot of what he talks about with the corn subsidies and such.
I'm still waiting for our local library to get a copy of the book.

Guest's picture

I am sorry but I disagree...

I am a single parent of a child that has cerebral palsy...My monthly income is based upon if I am lucky whatever odd jobs that I can do from home so that I can care for my childs needs. I do not get government support for anything for her, other than healthcare,which is minimal( I learned along time ago the government does not do jack for anyone)

Now... my monthly income is about $650 CAD you do the math to convert to US$... I pay my rent $410/mon + Electric/phone..internet. That does not leave a heck of alot of $$ left over for food & toiletries
However.... You would be very hard pressed to find any processed,pre-packaged surgar filled garbage in my fridge or cupboards.... Hmmmm....Spend $3 on a box of Ho-Ho's or buy bananas, apples & oranges for the same $3.
You do not need to be highly educated to know that 6-8 apples costs less and is more nutritious than that box of Lil Debbies.

We may not have that Flat screen TV my kid & I, but, we eat VERY healthy and are not malnurished by far.

Today..there is no reason for this epidemic...even the poorest of households have 1 TV and radio...get the newspapers & the ppl go out daily ...information about nutrition is EVERYWHERE.

Lack of education is not the issue...it is poor choices of the individual... To say it is cheaper to eat garbage from a box is just adding to the media poison to help "SELL" more.

Does not take a culinary genius to bite into a carrot

Guest's picture

"I am lucky whatever odd jobs that I can do from home "

It seems to me that you have TIME to prepare meals and think about a balanced diet, which many poor don't have ann abundance of. You have traded your TIME to work for less money and used the extra TIME to plan better meals. Andrea Dickson's theory still holds true for your situation becuase TIME is the main factor that the poor have to deal with when choosing unhealthy meals. You just made a trade and don't realize that your situation is the same.

Guest's picture

I was not breastfed.

I was adopted, paperwork signed and finished before I was even born, and then I was brought home the day after I was born.

I may have been breastfed on the first day or something.. but after that, I was fed by the bottle and cared for by my adoptive parents. So, I did not establish this romantic bond between mother, boob, milk and baby.

I grew up happy and healthy. I was a US dress size 2 until I was 14, and since then have become and settled at a dress size 6~8. I am considered slightly overweight by the definitions currently in circulation, although I feel just fine with my body.

I don't drink, I tried smoking one cigarette, then quit, I've never been interested in drugs, and I have monotonous long-term relationships, in which I don't cheat, or stalk, or do anything strange.

It's funny that you mention all these brain studies, since I remembering reading a study in college that went over Humans being the only humans whose major behaviors are not controlled by instinct. Remember, that whole conscious thought thing? Perhaps some babies who were not breastfed grew up to be criminal crackheads with relationship problems, and perhaps some of the breasthead babies grew up to be the same.

However, I believe that breastfeeding is not at ALL some failsafe way to guarantee a healthy and virtuous life for your child, and for a person to be so stuck on one idea is silly.

I reply to you now, only in the hopes that if someone comes through here and reads your comments, they don't suddenly feel terrible if they did not breastfeed. I reply, because us non-breastfed babies didn't grow up to be emotional wrecks with binge eating disorders.

Guest's picture

just because you weren't breastfeed doesn't mean its not healthy to do so.its always more natural and healthy for the child i mean you dont see animals who breastfeed coming up with different ways to feed their offspring...its natural and suppose to happen.however in your situation and many other humans situations these days, there are alternatives, which are not necessarily bad but the number one choice is always breast milk duh its the whole reason women have breast in the first place.now in regards to if you breast feed your child will always be healthier until they are adults thats a far fetched idea. when we become independent and make our own decisions in life yes we will be fat or skinny because of our choices but a baby doesn't have a choice so as a parent we make these choices to feed our children to make them grow and healthy. you can do so by using breast milk or formula. its just more natural to use breast milk that's all.women who can should be encouraged to do so and not be lazy and just use formula. i have a sister who works full time and goes to college full time and still manages to breastfeed , the upside to living in this century is the technology we have to help us such as breast pumps . they are given out for free at WIC.she tells me how hard it is to do it because you have to pump all the time but she believes its only right for the child. it isnt the childs fault my sister works and goes to college, but my sister does it to better both of their futures. i believe every women has a choice how they feed their child and so do the fathers. But you can not say that breast milk will make them skinny and healthy when they are adults because once the child has a choice it will probably eat crap just like the rest of Americans. as human adults we always have a choice.

Guest's picture

yes, I have seen people on WIC, food stamps abuse the privilege of free food by buying steak, lobster, (yes, i have seen this), other high-priced foodstuffs. Our tax dollars and my tax dollars go to this. They need to be more self sufficient, cook from scratch, ... I remember how much hunger hurt, physically hurt, and i would never abuse the privilege of free food. Please G-d help everyone get work that pays sufficiently and have time and temperment to cook - and eat - well.

Andrea, you're doing a great job. it's a pleasure to read your comments.

Addiction - I am a recovering addict and part of addiction is trying to fill a bottomless pit that can never be filled! what with food or whatever.

Guest's picture
trying hard

As someone who has had a very limited budget as a result of a child born with heart issues I can, without hesitation, agree that it is expensive to eat healthy. We have to follow a low sodium, low fat type diet for my son. We are still reeling from the bills that were not paid by health insurance. It takes every ounce of creativity to maintain a healthy food household. It does boil down to doing as much 'from scratch" as possible. Both parents work in this house and we have two children, both now school age. When work finishes at 5pm (whether that's politically astute or not) and sports/school activities are at 5.30, that's not a lot of time to cook healthy. Planning, preparation and commitment are key. Thankfully the kids like salads, veggies and dip, fruit (great portable, calorie controlled item - think of an apple) etc. But perishables mean more trips to the store - again time that is in short supply. In addition you can't coupon fruit and veggies. there are wasy but gosh it is not as easy as the prepackaged stuff that would be so handy. (But the sodium! Urgh. The colorings -eek! The fat _yikes!) Someone mentioned juice. We never have juice here because it's so expensive and calorific. I buy the equivalent dollar amount of apples or oranges. We drink town water.
I am a master's educated Mother and I am challenged. I live in a lower middle class suburban area so we have food choices as opposed to bodega shopping. I can patch it together. but I am challenged to do so on a limited budget.

Guest's picture

Im not totally sure that overeating is linked with uneducation. Even when I was 16 I was watching what I ate, and at that age you dont have much education. I was never obese or overweight but have had to watch what i eat every day. I think its EASIER to obtain junk food. What drive thrus have healthy food. Some drive thrus have salads but the choices are limited. I think lazieness and apathy are connected with being overweight, in my opinion. And also when someone is young and overweight it is much harder to keep the weight off because it is all related to how a person thinks.

Guest's picture

Have you ever bought a bag of absolutely beautiful apples.... taken one bite, and they tasted like yukky cardboard? If you live far away from the grocery store, did you drive all the way back there and get your money back? And even if you did, there you were, apple-less. You then had to drive to hell and back somewhere else to start the process all over again, with no guarantee of better results.
Some times you just say to hell with it and eat a peanut butter sandwich.

Guest's picture

Could it be possible that eating all the high sugar foods make apples taste not so sweet in comparison. I found when I switched from packaged sugary fatty foods 3 years ago that I find that sort of stuff unbearably sweet now where as an apple or any other piece of fruit is the right amount of sweet.

just something to think about.

Guest's picture

No, its the crappy poor quality of fruits and veggies being sold in grocery stores these days. Nothing is fresh. Lettuce is generally yellow inside the head once you break it open, celery is yellow and wilted, berries are already rotting or not even ripen enough to have been picked, potatoes are old, soft and tasteless. Apples are often "woody" inside. I grew up on a farm and believe me, the stuff you are buying in the stores is probably no better quality than the much maligned Little Debbie cakes everyone keeps harping on. Eat the peanut butter sandwich.

Andrea Karim's picture

I have purchased lousy apples before, yes. Fruit that isn't refridgerated carefully can go bad quickly. But the issue isn't that someone gives up on an apple and eats a peanut butter sandwich- it's that they eat a peanut butter sandwish made with the whitest white bread and peanut butter made with hydrogenated oils.

Mushy apples still make awesome homemade applesauce. Just sayin'.

Guest's picture

I found this article just in time. I was just lamenting the fact that my food budget has doubled now that we are eating healthy.

I am spending 250 a week to feed a family of four relatively modestly but trying to get more fruits, veggies, lean proteins into us. It IS expensive.

By going by the FDA food pyramid and giving each family member according their age and sex the appropriate number of servings of each item this is what it cost.

People earning min wage or even double min wage aren't going to be able to afford that.

I have no issues with food subsidies for the poor, I support them, but we really need to differentiate between calories and nutrition.

Guest's picture

If you have a backyard why can't you grow the vegetables yourself? Seeds cost very little and will produce alot of food. Growing lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, sweet peas, potatoes are some of the easiest things to grow.

Guest's picture

if u have time and a yard to do so.farming healthy food takes time and skills.

Andrea Karim's picture

And also, gardening is not really as cheap as people make it out to be. That said, not everyone has access to tenable land.

Guest's picture

Thank you for your article! It's hard to find any information as to why the processed food is so much more expensive than fresh food...it's like something that no one wants to talk about in the 'mass media'.

Guest's picture

To the author of this ignorant article. You absolutely make no sense whatsoever, how dare you try to generalize an entire popluation based upon your ignorant assumptions. I was born and raised in Seattle and as an African American I want to know what ghetto area are you referring to?? Because the last time I checked the central area in predominately white. I also don't think considering the high cost of homes that poor people can afford to live in those border areas as you so ignorantly described in your article. Lastly I have looked at others people's cart, and I have seen some rich people buy junk food as well. I think its a matter of preference and what someone is accustomed to. People eat poor because thats all they know, I was not born rich, but I was taught from an early age the importance of good nutricien so as I became an adult even when I had little money, I still made healthy decisions when it came to buying groceries.

Andrea Karim's picture

Wow, I guess you missed the point of the article altogether. Sorry to learn that you don't know how to read. I didn't say anything about black people versus white people. When I refer to Seattle's ghetto and seeing people buying terrible amounts of junk food, I'm not only talking about black people - just the urban poor, be they black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native.... You'll see the same thing in Everett for that matter. Bad food is cheaper, so really, it's a frugal choice to buy it, and that is partly the fault of the way that the government subsidizes the crops that are used in junk food.

It's not that there aren't skinny poor people or that there aren't fat rich people - we're talking about averages.

Too bad you didn't read the article - you got as far as the "ghetto" comment and started freaking out.

Guest's picture

I come from a family of 7. We are too rich for help and too poor to eat healthy. My parents and older brother have diabetes. My mom is withering away and we cant even take her to the doctors. As i said, we are too rich to have medical help and too poor to pay for it on our own. Things are good for the rich and the poor....but the ones in the middle...seems we are on our own. Why doesn't anyone ever address this?

Guest's picture

Lack of education is not the cause.

Any high-school dropout could differentiate between good foods and bad foods. Pretty sure children and those without education know that a cupcake isn't as healthy as an apple.

Guest's picture

This comment isn't aimed at anyone particularly. But, if ANYONE tries to tell ANYONE else that eating healthy isn't more expensive....you're out of your ever lovin' mind!

The point of the article was the comparisons of eating unhealthy foods as compared to eating (and trying to afford) healthy foods. The fact is, I can walk into any Walmart and buy a pack of unhealthy hotdogs for $0.99. However, if I want the much healthier bundle of bananas, it will set me or you back $4.oo. This is about the best comparison that can be made. But how about bread? Loaf of white unhealthy bread...$0.89. Loaf of whole grain...$2.14!

The fact is eating healthy will break most of the under-class and this is why they don't eat healthy food. They have a choice to make; eat healthy and run out of money in week 2, or eat junk and have food all month long. This isn't a complicated matter folks, it's simple economics. However, if you have never had to make the choices...you have no idea what you are talking about. And that is the bottom line. You have to have the experience of the decisions that must be made to understand what the author is saying. If you have never had to consider the question...you will not understand the circumstance. As far as the WIC program? They are no better really. Fact is that all those "juices" they hand out are loaded with corn syrup and sugars that are bad for you. Eggs, ok, I'll grant that one; however, when one looks at the program as a whole....it's junk food all over again...for the most part.

Yes, the parents have the final decision as to what goes in their childs mouth. Additionally, they also want to keep their children from going to bed hungry, and that means junk food because they know their is no way they will afford the healthy alternative. Facts are facts. And the fact is...eating a healthy diet will cost you! Health food companies drive up their prices to fatten profits and they don't care who is left out of the "healthy circle." (Least of all the poor!)

The debate gets complicated by everyone's "what if's" and "Yeah but's," when it is such a simple thing to understand. Look at it this way: To lose weight you need to eat less calories. If you don't...you won't lose weight. Less calories=less weight. More calories=more weight. Just like diets..."it's simple stupid."

"I want to lose weight so I must eat less calories to do it."

Let us not make a complication where none should lie. We only disservice ourselves and others when we do. Just look at the our government if you need a visual aid of the example. Healthy eating costs more than not. It's as simple as that.