Is the Government Partially to Blame for America's Poor Eating Habits?
Most of us have both heard and given many reasons why we can't eat healthy. No time, no desire to cook, lack of healthy options in restaurants.
Now a new study published in the journal Health Affairs is placing some of the blame on the government.
Researchers called 2,000 King County, Washington residents with a phone survey, which was followed up by a questionnaire in the mail. 1,300 participants returned the written questionnaire.
Their research showed that the those participants who were closest to meeting the new My Plate standards spent, on average, about $380 per year to meet the potassium requirement alone. According to lead researcher Dr. Pablo Monsivais, "People who have less of a budget have less of a choice. There's a real economic factor." The study states that it is less expensive to purchase processed foods than healthier choices, and that people will make their buying decisions based on price.
According to Dr. Monsivais, the government should be doing more to encourage healthier eating, including subsidies to farms that grow fruits and vegetables in order to lower costs.
However, the study in no way can be used to make a statement about the economic impact across an entire nation.
The survey asked about the current buying habits of participants and the $380 figure was based off what those people were actually buying, not necessarily the cheapest option for making a healthy choice. Personal preferences come into play (i.e. organic only), as well as food availability in stores where these participants shopped.
Which leads us to the issue of the sample. King County is an area of Washington with a higher cost of living than many areas. Costs of groceries may not be representative of costs across the nation. Same goes for food selection and food availability.
And let's not forget that the study used an extremely small sample size. The population of King County, Washington is 1,931,249. Using even the 2,000 participants who participated in the phone survey it only accounts for .001% of the county. Extrapolate that out to the entire nation (population 307,006,550) and, well, you get the idea.