May 23, 2014

Chart of the Week: Is food too cheap for our own good?

chart of food expenditures as percent of disposable income

As you scarf down burgers and potato salad this long Memorial Day weekend, consider this: Americans have the cheapest food in history, and that unprecedented abundance is largely responsible for why we’re so fat.

According to a new article in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Americans in the 1930s spent a quarter of their disposable income on food. That share has fallen steadily through the decades, to the point where today less than 10% of Americans’ disposable dollars go for food. (That varies across income groups, of course: The poorest 20% of Americans still spend about a third of their disposable income on food.)

And even as the real cost of food goes down, each dollar we spend buys us more calories than it used to. The average American’s total caloric intake (adjusted for spoilage and other waste) rose from 2,109 calories in 1970 to 2,568 calories in 2010, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data — the equivalent of an extra steak sandwich every day. Little surprise, then, that more than 78 million U.S. adults, or 34.9%, were obese in 2011-12 — more than twice the rate found in a 1976-1980 health survey.

It’d be nice to think that all we as a people need to do is exercise more and eat more fruits and vegetables. But as the authors of the new paper point out, we’re already doing that: 51% of people in a 2009 study reported exercising regularly, up from 46% in 2001. Americans, as a whole, also ate more fresh fruits and vegetables in 2010 than they did in 197o (though again, that varies considerably among different groups). “[I]f people had access to more produce or cheaper produce, or just ate more of it, would they eat less candy and be thinner?” the researchers ask in conclusion. “Probably not.”

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: Health

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a Senior Writer at the Pew Research Center.

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346 Comments

  1. Rosalind6 days ago

    Anybody ever seen this movie:

    Soylent Green is a 1973 American science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, and, in his final film, Edward G. Robinson. The film combines the police procedural and science fiction genres, depicting the investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman in a dystopian future suffering from pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans, and a hot climate due to the greenhouse effect. Much of the population survives on processed food rations, including “soylent green”.

    Sadly, I think we’re headed that way….

    Reply
  2. Carolyn1 month ago

    If food is so cheap, why are the government here in the UK proposing free school meals for children?

    Reply
  3. Bob1 month ago

    “Salt, sugar, fat are today’s poisons”.

    Wow, the volume of ignorance in that statement screams to the effectiveness of the propaganda campaign of the last 30 years.

    Salt – do ANY basic research and you’ll find that the studies which were originally used to demonize salt got it completely wrong. Salt is very much required by our bodies, and humanity has consumed it forever in significant quantities. *SODIUM* (a component of salt) was thought to be a concern…turns out only for a very small set of people.

    Fat – Fat doesn’ make you fat, nor does it make you ill. Just like salt, the studies originally used to demonize fat were wrong. Check it out sometime.

    Sugar – this is about the only one that I can agree with at all, but only if the proper definition of sugar (simple carbohydrates) is used.

    Anyone with Diabetes in their family could quickly dispel the above myths, yet they are taken as gospel by the glucoose/insulin-typical person (meaning anyone who has a “normal” glucose/insulin response system).

    Any basic education on nutrition, the digestive system/process, and our hormonal system, will dispel all the propaganda re: Salt, fat, carbohydrates, protein, etc.

    Reply
  4. Jeff2 months ago

    Since when is food purchased with disposable income? Especially food at home?

    Is it cheaper because of farming practices, manufacturing processes, and the fact workers wages are stagnated at best more like in decline in terms of inflation? Could it be prices are artificially low because major corporations teach their employees how to claim Government benefit programs to augment wages?
    We will pay you x but when you can get food stamps it is x+1, so its all good :(

    Reply
  5. Scott Parrott2 months ago

    Cheap food and cheap energy should be the goal of every American,because we have the ability and resources to make it happen.

    Reply
  6. Abura Levi2 months ago

    Please advise the concern to eat one fruit of flat cactus a day. They Will shade at least 10 kgs per week.

    Reply
  7. Jocelyn2 months ago

    Salt, sugar, fat are today’s poison. Tax the raw products heavily and use the income to make healthy products cheaper. The outcome will be less unhealthy people, less people in hospitals.

    Reply
  8. Carolyn2 months ago

    If food is too cheap – why are the government wanting to introduce free breakfasts at school?

    Reply
    1. SuperMom1012 months ago

      Yes. Exactly! It’s the manufacturers that are hungry to get on the school breakfast menu. . .

      Had no idea about America’s highly processed, genetically engineered, chemically manufactured, artificially colored, steroid injected, arsenic feed, factory farmed, pesticide sprayed, antibiotic laced, sugar addicted, low fat, food supply when I experienced cancer over 12 years ago – and I thought I was eating healthy.

      Here’s a thought to Carolyn’s point. Ever wonder why Chocolate Cow’s Milk is offered on a school lunch tray as a beverage “choice” (along with three other types of cow’s milk) but water is banned? “The Federal Government sees no nutritional value in water and your local school lunch program won’t be reimbursed if it’s offered as a “choice.” Hmmmm…. and we can’t seem to figure out why America (and her children) have never been fatter or sicker. Common sense is not so common. – Voltaire

      Changed what’s on my plate, in my shopping cart, and in the kitchen cabinet and thankfully have been healthy ever since.

      Best health always,
      SuperMom101

      Reply
    2. kp2 weeks ago

      To feed the poor people? I do not understand your logic. Just people a small percentage of people require help with food does not extrapolate to everyone requiring help to buy food.

      Reply
  9. brian2 months ago

    You all express great points, I am a farmer.
    I am self sustaining, we raise pastured meats naturally grown vegetables , actually cook our own meals. Fresh eggs in the mornings with homemade breads, good hard work all day , by the way I am 55 y.o, with 6 herniated discs, life is no picnic!

    You all realize that your government has always favored the corporations. Pharma, institutionalized foods, how? subsidies the bigger the corp. the larger the subsidies, the government does not want you to have a choice, they love thinking for you, imagine a well society, doctors no longer pushing the latest miracle pill, you know you do! health insurance would be wellness insurance, I know you all are smart enough to connect the dots.

    so why wouldn’t everyone just grow a little of their own foods, Americans are LAZY!

    America is selling agricultural lands at an alarming rate, to foreign investors, who will turn around and land lease back to farmers, the American public thinks farmers don’t deserve a chance at retirement, fancy vacations with lots of selfies, Even the crappy food takes labor. Look up agenda 21 , urbaners are in the worst position, there will be a day when you will wish you knew a farmer, and actually had something worth bartering with, when you support these corps. that supply your food you are promoting sickness, and high health costs, it goes on and on. read the Weston a price foundation website, understand the lies and propaganda to keep the corporate states of America minimizing you and your choices.

    It is both sides of the political fence, at least back to big daddy bush thru Obama, you think the next president will be any different? Your congress is not for you either, remember when we asked for the same health insurance they have , did you get it?

    Until the people decide they are sick of being led by the lemmings of our government who are sustained by lobbyists of corporations, you will never see real change. All the opinions of the world don’t matter, there is one truth which sadly is not many can take care of themselves, This all gets very old to me but sometimes can’t resist , I hope everyones law , medical, phd’s blah,blah ,blah, degrees can help them when they need a farmer, you need a farmer everyday, not all the bs degrees. and if you disagree that’s fine, but you will need the people that can actually grow food. good luck to you all, and may GOD bless you all.

    Reply
    1. Joe Dyck2 months ago

      You’re right on the money! I wish people would pay a bit more attention to what is going on around them.

      Reply
  10. Christopher A, Jachulski2 months ago

    Don’t show this to the Obama Administration. They will tax food in the name of better health for Americans.

    Reply
  11. Danielle2 months ago

    The wrong foods are the cheapest….if healthier options were cheaper I believe people would chose those over fast food etc…..Sustainability is what its called just trying to stay alive alternative is not to eat @ all Really!

    Reply
    1. Mike G2 months ago

      I agree Danielle. Not only are the wrong foods the cheapest, but they also push you to buy more of it. For example, McDonald’s sells a 10 piece chicken nuggets for around 3.79, but you can get 20 piece for 4.99. So do you want to pay 38 cents a nugget, or 25 cents? I found that even if I wasn’t that hungry, I would go for the 20 piece simply because it’s such a better deal, and unfortunately I would end up finishing them and feeling sick the rest of the day. Now I try to stay away from fast food altogether.

      Reply
  12. Marjorie2 months ago

    I don’t know what guidelines were used for this research, but this study is false. Anyone can tell you that the cost of food in the USA has inflated continuously regardless of the recession with declining income of the middle and lower classes of employable citizens. Profit is the motivator in all business in this country and if the profit is not sufficient, prices increase to reinforce the profit line (including laying off more employees), even though the real reason profit is declining is because fewer people can afford purchasing the foods controlled by huge corporate entities. I see Pew Research is bought and paid by big Ag and food corporations to sell their propaganda. Excuse me while I go work on my vegetable garden.

    Reply
  13. Anne Thomas2 months ago

    It’s the sugar that is driving the obesity epidemic not the fat. Sugar is cheap because it is subsidised whereas healthy food is not. I’ve lost weight by drastically cutting down on sugar and eating more fat like nuts and omega 3 fish oil. youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    Reply
  14. Ray Johnson2 months ago

    The problem: Americans are fat. (Or any other “problem”)
    The answer: Higher taxes. (Just ask any Government employee)
    The result: Fat Americans paying higher taxes. (And more Government employees)

    Reply
  15. Leo B2 months ago

    The problem lies NOT in how cheap food prices are BUT in the lack of real food culture in America where citizens spend more money on fast food when they can feed themselves on real food for less. When most Americans today couldn’t care less or have no clue about how their food is prepared is a sure sign that the future will be problematic for many (in fact, it’s already happening). Your theory does not hold water when you look at many other countries and cultures where food is cheap and the citizens are healthier. The only difference is the presence of a strong food culture in these countries where people know more about real food and less about fast food (unless you are talking about healthy and quick stir-fry). You will also find that, in these same countries, there is an absence of powerful agri-business that influence or control their food culture – NOT the same reality we face daily in North America. LB.

    Reply
    1. Marjorie2 months ago

      Agree!

      Reply
  16. Cherie2 months ago

    A definition of “food” would be helpful if an extrapolation to nutrition and health is made. Fake is cheaper than real. Real is healthier than fake. Cheap does not equal healthier.

    Reply
  17. Michael Campitelli2 months ago

    You have to be joking! Obviously the people who did this research must never go to the grocery store. 8 years ago I could purchase nearly twice the amount of groceries for the same money. Please!!!!

    Reply
  18. Brandon2 months ago

    I would love to know what grocery store Drew DeSilver is going to. This is about the most assine story I’ve read in quite a while. Lets look at that cheep food:
    Eggs: Up 5.7%
    Tomatoes: Up 6.9%
    Breakfast sausage: Up 8.7%
    Hash Brows: Up 6.9%
    Orange Juice: Up 12.2%
    And that’s just one meal over the last year!!

    Chicken is up 22% over four years ago. Beef is up 35%. Coffee up 31%. Peanut Butter and margarine both up 30%

    I can tell you that my family’s food budget is NOT going down.

    Reply
    1. Marjorie2 months ago

      I see you found the faults in their research also! What a bunch of skewed data they played out here to allow big food manufacturers reason to raise prices even more. Any reason will do for their purposes. I took out 2/3 of my yard three years ago to plant a vegetable garden. The hard work is great exercise, the home grown produce tastes way better than the garbage genetically modified “food” sold at high prices in the store.

      Reply
  19. Tom Shillock2 months ago

    Ok, I’ll bite. Water is even cheaper so why don’t we consume more? Speech is cheap, but apart from gossip we don’t exercise our First Amendment because we have nothing to say we’re so busy buying. The locus of our gluttony is our unsatisfying lives even though we are not fully aware of it. We compensate oral pleasures. Unlike much else in our lives we can control what, where and when we eat and how much. We have control over food, which is another pleasure in a society in which institutions exercise control over us.

    Unfortunately oral pleasures are a poor surrogate for other more important aspects of our lives, such as our work and deep personal relations. Our pervasive economic system reduces our interpersonal relatons to one of buyers and sellers. Facebook, for example, is a desperate IT palliative to our alienation from each other and from ourselves.

    It would not be so bad if we Americans were not such a vulgar lot. We binge on sugar, salt, fat and alcohol then expect the medical industry to save Humpty Dumpty after decades of such behavior. Alimentary refinement or health is not us. Food is to us as gasoline is to our SUVs. We could learn much from the French, the social role of food in France and their ability to structure multi-course dinners, for example, that are very satisfying but do not caloric gut bombs. Unfortunately, we seem to be corrupting them with fast food.

    Reply
  20. Bill White2 months ago

    Interesting article (not sure about the time/income comparisons) but the real question to be answered is why is America the only country in the world where poor people are obese. Think about it, and that fact should be bothersome. Cheap fast food, sugar consumption increase, 64 ounce sodas, but what ever the problem is, it is certainly costing every one of us in healthcare dollars.

    Reply
    1. Valerie2 months ago

      It’s called cheap and convenient choices. Weather it’s fast food or boxed food, most of the poor in America don’t see other options. Highly processed and loaded with artificial additives to make them last longer on the shelf, taste like the ‘”real thing” and increase our addiction to sweet and salty foods have become the default choice. Many cannot afford the healthier choices. The only thing “natural” about these choices is the high fat storing ability they have. That’s a huge factor in obesity. America as a whole has sacrificed health for the convenience of quick and easy. I’d like to see more grass root efforts to not only educate people of the true consequences of these junk foods, but also how to just as easily and economically make healthy choices. Community gardens, gleaning opportunities and “Healthy Choices” food banks would be a start. What other options can you think of?

      Reply
      1. Marjorie2 months ago

        Food banks supply tons of the unhealthy prepackaged meals to the poor.

        Reply
    2. Marjorie2 months ago

      Poor are obese because the only foods they can afford is high caloric carbohydrates, starches, pasta, potato ladened with fat. Modern culture endorses the better life as being one that is sedentary, supported by appliances that take the physical labor out of our lives… physical movement/work IS what we all NEED to be healthy and productive. Oh wait… if the working classes (or currently unemployed) are not healthy, well then there is profit to be had in the medical care industry. Any industry making profit off the sick will WANT people to remain sick. vicious cycle

      Reply
  21. Alex2 months ago

    What about self control? Our media and our culture of credit card spending tells us that instant gratification is good, it’s right. Don’t wait for that thing you want, have it now. Don’t limit yourself when you know you want more.

    For anyone who thinks that food prices have skyrocketed, try living outside the US. See how you’d do in Ukraine where you could (for a real life example) spend a week’s salary on a kilo of butter.

    Restaurants just want to make as much as they can, and so they give the consumer what the consumer wants: bigger portions, more fats, more sugars, more salts. Marketers are just doing their jobs and peddling their products to increase sales as much as they can. “Snickers satisfies,” anyone?

    It’s our own responsibility to eat right. My philosophy has always been everything in moderation, and get plenty of exercise.

    Reply
  22. Alex2 months ago

    The chart is way off. Maybe authors confused disposable income with gross income. We’re not poor, and after all the taxes, gas, house payments and bills, we spend a good 25-30% of our disposable income on food.

    Reply
  23. Bryan2 months ago

    For what it’s worth, here is my anecdote which I assume is very common. As a lad, we had non-sugary cereal (yes, we dumped spoonfuls of sugar on it) about three or four times a year. We just didn’t eat cold cereal. We had hot cereal which is waaay cheaper per serving, and things like eggs and homemade bread.

    Now, my family unfortunately has moved away from that and the good breakfasts are the exception, not the norm. Sad, really.

    Reply
  24. Shawn2 months ago

    I guess we could counter argue that the percent of disposible income going for food is declining not due to cheaper food, but more disposible income going for things that people feel are necessities that really aren’t necessities . . . like cell phones, smart phones, cable TV, etc. . . . . instead of good quality, sound nutritious food, less convenient but better for you food and excercise. Maybe it’s a messed up world of priorities!

    Reply
  25. Casey Loring2 months ago

    I think it is interesting that this study compares modern cost of food (as it relates to disposable income) to that of the 1930′s. As history states, from 1930 to the late 30′s or early 40′s, was the period known as The Great Depression where the world hit rock bottom financially. The US unemployment rate rose to 25% and those that could work took drastic pay-cuts just to be employed. To conclude, comparing the disposable income of the 1930′s (when total income was at an all time long) and the disposable income of the modern day (when disposable income has peaked for several years) is very misleading and a crude misjudgement of cost of food during two extremely different economical time periods.

    Here are some links that strengthen my point:

    zillow.com/research/files/2011/1…

    english.illinois.edu/maps/depres…

    Reply
  26. Ron O’Connor2 months ago

    The real problem is a lack of willpower among Americans, not the cost of food. As American Farmers produce the world’s safest, least expensive, and most abundant food supply it enables our country to ignore the age old dilemma of guns or butter?

    Our military keeps us free and this able, well equipped group, is a by-product of affordable food, not to mention we have to feed our soldiers and sailors.

    It also enables us to have multiple automobiles, television sets, and other luxuries uncommon in other countries around the world. We all have the opportunity to make choices, it is totally unrelated to inexpensive food.

    Perhaps what this country needs is a hardier strain of test mice!

    Reply
  27. Alîcia2 months ago

    Fantastic: So we’re eating more healthy food and exercising more.. but then still eat the quarter pounder with cheese and 3 liters of sodas on top? This human ability to dissociate our actions from their consequences is simply fascinating to me.

    I agree with Kristin below: this has nothing to do with income. I believe there is a bigger problem in that we simply don’t value our food enough (or, by the looks of things, our health or environment either), as a Swiss Re expert recently pointed out: openminds.swissre.com/stories/475

    This week’s “GM Contamination, Cartels and Collusion in South Africa’s Bread Industry” report by the African Centre for Bio Safety shows that most GM foods aren’t even labelled. openminds.swissre.com/stories/655

    Why don’t we care more about how our food is produced, what we consume and what it does to our bodies? Why don’t we demand full labeling of our produce? What will it take for us to simply eat better rather act like uncontrollable 5 year olds and then search the web for a myriad of pills to make it all better?

    Reply
  28. MB2 months ago

    When you re-run that information EXCLUDING all processed foods — then try saying we spend less! Real food cost more — and what we supplement to the poor is not food by nature’s definition. Rarely are they provided unprocessed foods. Bologna and cheese should not count as food do to the amount of processing. Yes, America has much more to eat but I question whether we should define it as food (more like junk fillers)

    Reply
    1. Shawn2 months ago

      Cheese is not food?? Good quality protein, calcium, etc . . . .

      Reply
      1. Dave2 months ago

        Processed cheese is not considered food on my table.

        Dave

        Reply
        1. Shawn2 months ago

          That’s fair. Although some processed cheese slices are 60-70% real cheese and some of the rest of the ingredients are derived from milk. Do have a lot of added sodium tho . . .

          Reply
  29. Dave2 months ago

    Ridiculous! I this argument had any merit, the lower your income, the heather you would be (to a point of course). This is certainly not the case.

    Reply
    1. Vonnie2 months ago

      Exactly. Obesity is more prevalent among the poor than the wealthy, which is a very recent phenomenon as poverty has traditionally meant undernourishment and even starvation and still does in much of the world. Obviously, many poor Americans are able to fill their bellies with something, but much of it is empty calories from processed grains and hydrogenated fats. The problem isn’t that food is too cheap, it’s that the wrong kind of food is too cheap. If the government started subsidizing vegetables to the extent it does corn, wheat, and soy, we might start seeing some changes.

      The SNAP program needs to change as well. As for the argument that people do not have access to healthy food in food deserts, I think it would be interesting to see how quickly convenience stores and liquor stores will start offering healthier fare if that’s all their customers are able to buy.

      Reply
  30. Shawn2 months ago

    Get the facts folks! For those of us involved in producing food, we take exception to the comments like we “designed to addict the consumer”, etc. We make what people want to buy and they vote with their dollars! If they vote “cheap”, our industry has to make it “cheap”. Then we have activists demanding no GMO, GMO labeled, organic, rBst free, no waste, good quality, blah, blah blah . . . that all costs money and reduces efficiencies so prices go up AND less can be exported to the people around the world that really need the food!!

    GENERAL FACTS ABOUT AGRICULTURE (From a 2010 UC State University Study)
    Twenty two million American workers produce, process, sell and trade the nation’s food and fiber. But only 4.6 million of those people live on the farms– slightly less than 2 percent of the total U.S. Population. (That’s almost 10% of the population. Another 7.6 % work in foodservice related jobs, so that’s over 17% of the population that is being insulted by some of these comments, or who would be out of a job!)

    Consumers spend $547 billion for food originating on U.S. farms and ranches. Of each dollar spent on food, the farmer’s share is approximately 23 cents. The rest are for costs beyond the farm gate: wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution.

    On average, every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, around $6 million in U.S. agricultural products–grains, oilseeds, cotton, meats, vegetables, snack foods, etc., will be consigned for shipment for export to foreign markets.

    It all means more jobs and higher wages across the nation. U.S. agricultural exports generate more than $100 billion annually in business activity throughout the U.S. economy and provide jobs for nearly 1 million workers.

    Agricultural land provides habitat for 75 percent of the nation’s wildlife. Deer, moose, waterfowl and other species have shown significant population increases during the past several years.

    Reply
    1. Marjorie2 months ago

      Then explain to me why our government purposely limits food production but to uphold the pricing structure at the store level…. sort-a like the diamond industry which is way past fraudulent. Maybe it’s better to say that the collusion between government guidelines for food production is reliant on Wall Street doctrine. American dollars have no voting value at all in the scheme. Food supply is limited in selection and quantity to support increasing prices and profits of suppliers. Welcome into the scene the profusion of home gardening and organizations supporting their effort nationwide. More power to the local farmer’s markets! I’ve decreased my grocery bill to half because of my home garden production. I’m healthier for it too!

      Reply
  31. Loren2 months ago

    The author obviously doesn’t do the grocery shopping in his household. Food prices have spiked significantly. Quit reading research and go out and investigate for yourself in the real world.

    Reply
    1. Marjorie2 months ago

      agree

      Reply
  32. Dave2 months ago

    The title should be “Is CHEAP food to cheap for our own good”. Try eating all organic and non-GMO food along with grass fed and naturally caught meat and fish. See how much of your disposable income goes towards food. Fillers, preservatives and corn syrups found in “cheap” foods are likely the major contributor to lowering food costs. Just remember, you get what you pay for.

    Reply
    1. Vonnie2 months ago

      Yes, thank you! When I was working, I was too busy, tired and stressed to shop for and prepare healthy food. I’m taking a sabbatical now and am trying to eat right and shed the pounds, but the combination of higher food bills and reduced income is taking a toll on our budget. I could save a lot of money (and time) if I went back to McNuggets, sandwiches with bread made from yoga mats, and chain pizza.

      Reply
  33. Rich Sutton2 months ago

    Interesting that the research stopped in 2009. A five year old headline and anyone who buys groceries knows that food prices have gone up significantly. add to that the price of gas i would say the average consumer is being buried with high costs.

    not a very timely headline in my opinion

    rich

    Reply
  34. John Hughes2 months ago

    So much already said but can’t resist having my two pennyworth.

    Industrialized food is cheap essentially so expensive “good” food can be sold at added value/profit to those on higher incomes.

    The industry maximises profit my selling cheap/low margin food in bulk and good food as high added value/margin.

    Most major Companies have lawyers whose role is to find ways around the use of language to enable new products at key price breaks to be developed.

    The raw material prices are driven down by the process industry to ensure that profit is maximised at the process and distribution levels in the food chain not the source level.

    Consumers have allowed themselves to be manipulated by the industry to cover the costs of distribution and the massive cost of packaging in addition to the above. The result is the consumer then pays significant transportation, processing, packaging, waste and disposal costs in addition to the raw material cost.

    The food industry has attacked parental authority since the 1950′s. Then parents mantra then was “don’t eat between meals”. A UK bar called the Milky Way was advertised as the snack you can eat between meals, a direct attack on parental authority and so the industry has continued.

    Great series of UK TV programmes “The men who made us fat”. 50 years of industrialisation.

    Reply
  35. zbig2 months ago

    Healthy, unprocessed food is more expensive than ever. True for Middle Europe as much as for USA

    Reply
  36. Jean2 months ago

    I’m going to guess that you haven’t been grocery shopping for the past 30 years…or paid attention to prices and budget. I’ve only seen the prices of (pretty much) just staples, rise considerably.

    Reply
  37. Jun2 months ago

    I live in Seattle area. What I found is since the financial crisis in 2009, the inflation including food cost has been rising, especially healthy food like fresh fruits and organic produce. The pay increase has been way slower compared to the inflation, and I have spent a lot more percentage on food as in 2009.

    I am more convinced that this article together with this chart is more like routine article someone working in some company has to write and publish, and no one cares about the nonsense in it.

    Reply
  38. Lisa Boesen2 months ago

    Fast food may be cheap – you can still get a 99 cent hamburger but I’m not sure this information is accurate for the general consumer in a grocery store. I agree with the concept that if food is reasonable priced, then without self-control, it is possible to buy more, eat more, weigh more. Exercising regularly could be taking a walk while talking on the cell phone and walking on the dog and considering that exercising. There are few fruits you can get for less than $2/pound. Even lemons and limes have skyrocketed over this last year. Figures from 2009 are irrelevant in my opinion. A lot happens in four years to affect prices from ketchup to coffee.

    Reply
  39. Ryan C.2 months ago

    What is interesting the correlation between obesity and hunger (this isn’t stated in this article but in other sources). For example, the southern US states have a 33% obesity rate among their kids (presumably more active and higher metabolism). There is also a growing hunger problem in those states. (This is actually true for most of the US and the free world.) At first that seems counter intuitive, but the cheap food that also tastes good is often high calorie and low nutrition. When kids are exposed to better foods and educated on good nutrition, they can choose better foods. We want to say fresh foods are not available, but I see just as many markets in big cities as I do in small cities. If you want healthy food you can find it. Choosing to pay for produce to make a well-balanced meal over buying a TV dinner or $5 hamburger, can be difficult when you just want to be filled up (and those other foods taste really good). Community gardens, and other local programs help to educate adults and kids on the benefits of food. We just shouldn’t expect the government to take care of all our problems, or the problems of our communities. There are good people working on the problem and they can always use help. Don’t complain, get busy.

    Reply
  40. JCH2 months ago

    Every election cycle there is great discussion about Social Security being the “third rail” of politics. It is mentioned in the article how the percent of income spent on food varies across income groups and how the poorest pay as much as one third of income for food. When the chart shows that the average American is paying one third of their income we will learn the true third rail of politics. JCH

    Reply
  41. Douglas2 months ago

    So, what’s the answer ? Make food more expensive so that fat people will eat less ? I would speculate, that Talk is too cheap for our own good.

    Reply
  42. Debra Anne DeJoseph,M.D.2 months ago

    Perhaps the reason that the percentage of income spent on food is declining is that we are spending more on prescription medication, devices, and procedures to treat our obesity related illnesses such as hypertension,diabetes, hyperlipidemia, coronary artery disease, sleep apnea, and replacement of weight bearing joints. Government support of agriculture needs to be facotred into the amount that I actually spend on that quart of milk.

    Reply
  43. Phil2 months ago

    Wondering how this takes into account that working American wages are not keeping up with inflation and cost increases of food? To eat healthy, it costs most middle income families more for food than every before. I see comments about data only to 2009 which could explain.

    Reply
  44. Steve Johnson2 months ago

    Unhealthy food may be expensive, yet organic produce is ridiculously inflated. Within an efficient economy, organically grown food should be decreasing in cost, allowing the majority to partake.

    Reply
  45. Ayo Adediji2 months ago

    I hate research and articles which look at human problems from a simplistic angle.
    The title must be driving some social scientists and social activists crazy. Problems of obesity lies in many factors; education, social economic, genetics, diets and a host of others.
    The cost of food may play a role, that role is probably not as significant as this article wants us to believe.
    May be the article should have start with a question and ask what role is played by cost or availability of cheap food in obesity in the United State.

    Reply
  46. chaletx2 months ago

    As a retiree living on a fixed income, I must watch all of my outlay and so keep a monthly budget that details all of my expenditures. Out of curiousity, I have just looked at the first five months of 2014 to see what percentage of my monthly income was spent on food for my household of two. I was unsurprised to find that the monthly percentage ranged between 10 and 16 percent – and I’m a bargain shopper who tries to include mostly fresh, healthy alternatives and will drive out of my way for sales on these items, and who generally buys store brands or warehouse brands for staples. I’m not sure where the Pew researchers are shopping, but I must respectfully refute these findings, as they pertain to me, anyway. Also, their figures in the chart only go through 2009, and I know for a fact (since I must count every penny) that grocery prices have risen greatly over the past year or so. Anyone who has tried to purchase beef this year will agree with me.

    Reply
  47. Scott2 months ago

    Now I can afford Health Care.

    Reply
  48. Chris2 months ago

    “Is food too cheap for our own good”? Are you serious? I’m not sure where you live, but food has never cost more. Food has never required such a substantial amount of the American paycheck, and most Americans don’t have disposable income. Where are you getting your information from???

    Reply
  49. Ross2 months ago

    This study, written by Drew DeSilver, is completely erroneous. The Median household income in the US for 2009 was $49,777. When looking at the graph, his numbers show that approximately 5% of disposable household income (another mistake) spent on food. This equates to $47 per week on food. Most families spent almost that much per DAY currently, given that the price of food has doubled in the past 7 years. Please don’t take my word for it, research at USDA or CPI or go grocery shopping!

    It’s deeply disturbing that, in the face of massive inflation and increased food costs, there are those that have a political agenda to promulgate the opposite of reality.

    Reply
    1. gojld12 months ago

      great post

      Reply
    2. Richard2 months ago

      It’s nothing new for a “research center” to publish BS to help some hidden agenda.

      Ross, are you aware of any of Pew’s specific political affiliations or is this just speculation on your part..?

      Reply
  50. SMercier2 months ago

    What about the fact that High Fructose Corn Syrup is now in almost all of our foods? Read the labels. It is in virtually everything, even breads. It increases your appetite and so many people have no idea that although it starts with corn, it ends up in a lab having enzymes added to it, and your body reacts to it as though it were poison. Coincidence? No, it is totally different than regular Corn Syrup.

    Reply
  51. Tim2 months ago

    This article makes no sense. It’s down, but it’s still a 1/3rd of poorer folks income? It’s nowhere near DOWN. It’s up, an average of 40% over the last 5 years. Anyone that shops for the household knows that! Terrible article.

    Reply
  52. Kim Youngblood2 months ago

    In the day when the cost of a chuck roast or hamburger is out of reach for those who are just above poverty level, I am curious where the thought of food being too cheap comes in. Fresh tomatoes at $2.99 a pound for those who make minimum wage is not cheap. When a 3 lb chuck roast costs $15 for a family of four on a budget of $14 an hour, it takes an hour and half to earn just the meat for the meal. Back in my day, chuck roast, hamburger, and hot dogs could be a staple for those making minimum wage, but that is not the case anymore. They are left with pasta and thank God above they have that or they would starve. I just believe that data that was pulled is a tad skewed by focusing only on a certain population and affordability view.

    Reply
  53. gojld12 months ago

    This chart needs to be redone. Its needs to eliminate the higher income brackets to get to the income brackets that contain the majority of populous (and most of the overweight people). It is my guess that you will see the chart be fairly flat in the early years but then boom starting about the past year and half to two years and there should be a dramatic increase. Also it makes no sense that food out cost less then food at home. A $ burger at McDonalds to one cooked on the grill yes, but across the board. Boneless skinless chicken breast at $1.98/lb, rigatoni $3/lb; Alfredo Sauce $2/15 Oz… Enough to make at least 4 chicken Alfredo dinners at home…. $6.98 – Olive Garden 4 x $14.98 = $59.92. Yes sir, food away from home….cheaper. Not if you have any idea how to shop. Anyway to say that cheap food causes people to over eat, I will agree, in fact is this chart compared the cost of food (as a percentage of per capital income) in the the US to the rest of the world we would probably come in second only to New Zealand… My final contention would be that our overweight problem stems just a much from the fact we have too much of the wrong stuff to eat as to the pricing thereof.

    Reply
  54. Sharon2 months ago

    Unfortunately, it is VERY expensive to eat a healthy diet and many of the so called “overweight” folks you refer to don’t have access to fresh fruits and veggies even if they could afford them.

    Reply
    1. Will2 months ago

      You don’t have to have an expensive diet to eat healthy.

      We are on a budget and here’s what has worked for us, and it actually saves us money.

      Fresh stuff or whatever is on sale (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bananas and a few others are usually cheap). Always chose frozen veggies over canned.

      For lunch and breakfast, see food as energy thus eat only what you need. Moderation.

      When you have to splurge on the good stuff, don’t try to lose dollars to save pennies. Future Healthcare is NOT cheap, let alone current healthcare.

      Hope that helps.

      Will

      -also on a budget.

      Reply
  55. Mark2 months ago

    Overeating, in terms of caloric intake, does contribute to America’s health crisis, but in order to reverse the trend of health one must first understand why. There are a few theories out there, but one that makes sense to me is how far the american diet has evolved from the farm to the package.
    Supermarkets are lined up with processed foods which are calorie-rich, nutritional-deprived and full of ingredients that are designed to addict the consumer. As one food expert said, Americans are overfed, but undernourished. As society has grown further and further into a fast-paced, busy lifestyle, time spent preparing meals has been replaced by other things, and quick-access, cheap food that won’t spoil has become a staple of the American diet. Worse, food manufacturers of processed foods and fast-food restaurants are giving consumers “low-calorie” or “low-fat” options that in reality are simply playing a sad prank on the American people. These products are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients that will inhibit health or weight loss.
    Exercising alone is inadequate to overcome this problem. Far too many people believe all that is needed to lose weight is to simply burn more calories than you consume. As you stated in your article, this just isn’t true.
    Returning to a whole-foods, balanced diet can certainly reverse this trend, but it has to start in your kitchen. Avoid the boxed food and make what you eat – you’ll see a dramatic difference in your health and as a food consumer will gradually change the landscape of food production in America.

    Reply
  56. homemagician2 months ago

    How preposterous is this article!! The person that wrote this needs to go into the poorer areas where the schools have to provide breakfast/lunch programs and food to take home for the weekends because parents can’t afford to buy food. Ask those peope if food is cheap enough!! And it’s not the overabundance of food that is making us fat. It’s a person not having the willpower to stop eating!! I can’t believe that thousands of research dollars were spent on such drivel!!

    Reply
  57. Melissa2 months ago

    Please note this chart only goes until 2009 – it has SKYROCKETED since then! While pay has flattened or dropped, prices have risen and sizes continue to shrink. In 2009, a can of tuna was 12 oz for $0.45, now it is 10.5 oz for $1.25! While it may be cheaper in the USA than other places in the world (as % of income), prices are still spiraling out of control.
    Another problem is the cheaper foods are not necessarily the more healthy foods. It’s much cheaper to by Hamburger Helper and white potatoes than it is to buy veggies and chicken to grill for a salad.

    Not impressed with this article.

    Reply
  58. Alice Truscott2 months ago

    That last sentence about eating less candy was odd. I find if I pay attention to myself that I enjoy the taste of sugar but do not enjoy the sluggish feeling that comes with it. So in the market, I remind myself of that fact while staring at the candy bars placed at the checkout line. I can’t remember the last time I had a candy bar.

    Reply
  59. Alice Truscott2 months ago

    I have a friend who is grossly over weight. He tells me he is hungry all the time. I only get hungry close to meal time. I wonder if like the occurrence of autism if this hungry all the time problem is genetic, and on the rise.

    Reply
  60. Eric Rincones2 months ago

    In the military, food is essentially free for it’s soldiers, sailors, etc.; yet, you find very few obese members of the military.

    Reply
  61. Dave2 months ago

    There were no fat people in Belsen

    Reply
    1. gojld12 months ago

      Very sad piece of human history, but I’m trying to understand the point you are making. They were skinny because of “cheap food”?

      Reply
      1. Blake1 month ago

        His reply to bring light how Obama & company are taking us down the road of Germany in the 1930′s in all respects….and how so many are willing to let it happen, too ignorant and spineless to stand against the tide.

        Once the bastion of freedom that is the US is gone…who will be there…Russia, China, India, the European Union (France and Great Britain have just voted to withdraw)….any suggestions?

        Reply
  62. DOUG McLELLAN2 months ago

    Cheap? Cheap? Really? Gee! I never noticed. Then why is it when we go shopping there are many foods we can not AFFORD?
    Please, tell me? Where do you shop so I can go to those stores.

    Reply
  63. Kevin Cartwright2 months ago

    I think food has perhaps stablised in price to the consumer but have no doubt the supermarkets are forcing their suppliers to produce food more cheaply.

    Whilst many wont be bothered about my next comment i would also add that animal welfare standards are on the decline with the increase of cruel farming practices to supply the greed of the richer Countries!

    That cannot be acceptable!

    Reply
    1. Ryan C.2 months ago

      I work in Agriculture and am often concerned over how little the public knows about what really goes on at the farm. The farmer loses money when their animals are treated poorly because a stressed animal will not gain weight and is more likely to be sick. Most farmers take very good care of their animals. You should question the validity of anonymously posted YouTube videos as much as this public, cited research study.
      The real question is how much of the price you pay at the store is actually passed on to the farmer. Milk prices for example don’t reflect what the farmer gets except for times when milk is in high demand, then the stores raise their prices. People at the supermarket can pay as much as 40% margin for their foods. That’s their business, and I don’t begrudge them their right to run their business, but let’s analyze all sides before calling for judgement.

      Reply
  64. Frame2 months ago

    These numbers are bogus. What is your definition of “food”? Nutritional food costs in the area in which I live have contributed to a mass exodus further and further away from the metropolitan area. You can’t blame real estate prices as prices in the city have never been lower. For example the cost of fresh Basel leaves has gone up 3 times in 14 months. The price of eggs ( a standard for measuring the health of an economy) has increased two fold and the price of milk per gallon has also increased dramatically.

    If you are going to do ” national research” you need to stratify based on geographic location.

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. Paula2 months ago

      I am sceptical.

      I came to US in 1991, and remember these prices ; bananas $.19/lb, apples – from $.39/lb to $.59/lb (extra fancy), chicken drumsticks :$.39/lb, cabbage :$.19, onion :$.79/bag, 5 lb Idaho potato: $.99.
      Bagel and coffee from the street vendor $1, pizza slice $1.50.

      In 20 years, most of these tripled and quadrupled, and the price of meat went up about 10 times. As I write this, I am surprised to realize that, the prices for take out/caffeteria/street food only doubled.

      Although my income grew with the progress of my career, a young person starting out today pays double today in proportion to what we paid then.

      Reply
  65. Ken McCracken2 months ago

    Today I was at a seminar where a panel of top naval personnel gave us an update on the development and deployment of Amphibious Operations (USA, England and Australia). It may surprise that operations include humanitarian aid part of which is to provide medical and dental care to third world countries. It came out that peoples teeth of all ages are in a dreadful state due to the consumption of copious quantities of Coca Cola. I dare say that as they take on more and more of western diet, their health will suffer as a consequence. For the past fifty years I have paid a higher dollar for my food quality and need less quantity. I save heaps with low medical expenses and able to do more with exellent health and high energy. In my 78th year, I’m an active pilot and volunteer flying instructor, still working in my own business, work out at the gym and participate in my (young) family activities at the same level that a forty five year old person would. I am not wanting to blow my own trumpet, just want to make the point that we as a society are the victims of a huge con’ by the food manufactures who take natural products, de-nature them, atractively package them up and sell them to us for a huge profit. Then we trot off to the doctors and the chemists to make other purchases that treat symptoms when we should be focussing on prevention.

    Reply
    1. John2 months ago

      Well said!

      Reply
  66. Tom Welsh2 months ago

    One thing you have not adjusted for is the misleading and downright wrong nutritional advice that has become standard since 1970. Namely, to avoid meat and fats, and eat more fruit and grains. It is now gradually being understood that this is completely wrong, and people need plenty of fat and protein to be healthy. Meat and dairy are the best sources; the meat should be naturally fed (i.e. grass-fed beef, not corn-fed). Try eating a diet based on game, grass-fed beef, high quality dairy, and good vegetables and fruits, and you will find it costs a lot more than the grain-based diet most people eat nowadays (except the rich, of course).

    Reply
  67. JJ Bell2 months ago

    Is food quality not the key issue here? For example, wealthier individuals (who tend to purchase higher quality nutrient dense food) tend to have lower rates of obesity.

    Reply
  68. Mitja2 months ago

    Most of the People eat modification of plastic

    Reply
  69. Cindy2 months ago

    Global warming cause the weataher change and temperture growth so it’s support to change human eating behaviour too.

    Reply
  70. Mitja Petelin2 months ago

    What about the inflation? Was that taken in the account?
    THX

    Reply
  71. no one special2 months ago

    “Americans have the cheapest food in history, and that unprecedented abundance is largely responsible for why we’re so fat.”

    People are over weight because of medications, oversized television, driving everywhere and making more children than they need which makes people tired lazy and welfare hungry.

    The coat of living goes up and people eat more shit because its mentality shoved down their throats by consumerism and capitalistic ideals using creative people to hypnotize the average American who’s at home smoking a joint or over medicated by their physicians.

    No food isn’t cheap …America is.

    Reply
  72. Ben Anderson2 months ago

    Here are my thoughts:

    I didn’t really disagree with anything except the conclusion and I felt the data probably ignored significant variables in the way it was being positioned.

    “[I]f people had access to more produce or cheaper produce, or just ate more of it, would they eat less candy and be thinner?” the researchers ask in conclusion. “Probably not.”

    I think a version of this statement is 100% true and to position this statement the way you did ignores it. It’s much more probable that lower income families would eat healthier, and our nation would take a big step in the right direction in regards to obesity, if those families had access to fresh produce in the same way I do as a middle-income urban dweller.

    There are other issues at play, sure. Other things need to change, great. One of the steps to creating healthier inner cities is for those communities to get better access to fresh foods – fact.

    I’m an optimist – I think there is a trend happening in lower income communities that will prove this point in the coming years. There seems to be a big focus on community gardening in inner cities that I think end up leading to healthier lifestyles and generating social and economic benefits that start to sprawl.

    BA

    Reply
  73. Man of the World2 months ago

    This is an incredibly US-centric article. Food isn’t too cheap – we are too picky. There are a billion people around the world that go hungry and yet we have the audacity to throw food away if it has the slightest blemish on it. We serve up portion sizes much larger than we need. We are so immersed in food that we waste it on eating competitions and reality food shows. It is obscene that a large portion of the world goes hungry which such wasteful acts exist – and you’re complaining about food being too cheap? This article fails on many levels, but none more so than the fact it doesn’t cover what sacrifices have been made for the first world to enjoy such excessive gluttony who are literally eating the 2nd and 3rd worlds to death.

    Reply
  74. Debra2 months ago

    As I get older, the stark realization of eating properly is becoming more important. We are all in charge of our quality of life, and must grow and change how we think in order to benefit from any changes we make. People who believe they should spend money on food with no realization of the caloric intake and also drinking sodas are really asking for trouble.
    This has been a hard lesson to learn for me since diabetes runs in my family. Continuing to eat the way that I am, has taught me that if I am going to enjoy my life physically and mentally, I must be more conscious about the quality of food choices that I make. It might be easier to run through a drive through but the encouragement to up size your order, is not caring about their lives or body.
    A great eye opener is to visit a nutritionist and learn what the real proportion size is as a healthy serving. In regard to the comment by Suzi Roe, about the ability to get food stamps, makes me examine my own attitude about my food purchased. Also that mature adults will benefit if they follow counsel and advice given and decide to choose healthier foods, and set the example for their children.

    Reply
  75. Ben2 months ago

    It’s declining in line with the quality of food purchased.

    Commoditised rubbish – sugar, flour and animal fats – you could plot obesity, cancer and other health issues and observe the correlations

    Reply
  76. Chip2 months ago

    Was this a serious article – or one just to make your blog go nuts? Because there are so many things wrong with it that I don’t have enough time to enumerate them all.

    First, this article does not take into account the most important confounding factor : the price of ‘real’ food hasn’t gone down. The reason why the price of fake food has gone down is either a) it has been subsidized by the U.S. government or b) large corporations have figured out how to produce more food more cheaply. Corn has been subsidized so now high fructose corn syrup and corn byproducts are in everything. Large food corporations have used growth hormones, stronger pesticides, genetic modification, factory farming in crates, feeding cows a disgusting mess of other dead cows and corn, both of which they can’t digest, cheap ingredients like chemical byproducts, etc., etc., to make the food more cheaply.

    The price of REAL food, fruits, vegetables, etc, has gone up. Also, they aren’t available to everyone. Google ‘food deserts’ and you will see what I mean. I just checked the WIC program and you can’t buy lettuce, yams, white potatoes, or organic vegetables with WIC money in Arizona. Lettuce is a staple in my house – we go through at least ten heads of lettuce a week. So the answer to the title is that non-nutritious food made with chemicals and by-products like pink slime are way too cheap – and shouldn’t even be sold to the U.S. consumer.

    The reason why we eat more calories is a whole other issue – which comes from the types of food being sold in the stores and what is on TV commercials every fifteen minutes. Now we have high-fructose corn syrup products instead of sugar, and the portion sizes are poisonously large. You can’t find a loaf of bread in Wal-Mart without high-fructose corn syrup. Ketchup, mustard, breakfast cereal, crackers, cookies, fruit juice – anything you might give to your kids at a regular barbecue or cookout has been injected with HFCS, or in other words – hijacked by the corporatocracy trying to make a profit. If you don’t want HFCS but have already been addicted to sweet flavors – then you are sold other chemical products like Aspartame, which causes all kinds of problems because your body can’t digest it.

    As far as price, we pay $150 per week for a family of two, eating all organic food from Sprouts, including juicing several times per week. That is the price of eating a high-quality, all organic diet. The average household income in Arizona is $47829 or $919.78 per week. The food cost would be 32.61% if there were four people in that house who ate only high-quality organic food.

    The people who suffer the most from obesity in this country are the poor – and that is NOT because they are pigs and spend all of their wages on food. It is simply that the only food they can afford is complete crap – chemical-laden, nutrient-deficient, empty calories which pack on pounds while leaving the person more tired and with more cravings than ever.

    Reply
    1. Ironic2 months ago

      Well said Chip.

      Reply
    2. MB2 months ago

      Spot on, Chip.

      Reply
    3. Dave Kimbell (th3rdsurfer)2 months ago

      Great response! I have been allergic to High Fructose corn syrup (I get violently stomach-ill) since I was a baby, and I have grown allergic to all corn and corn-products as an adult. It is truly a blessing and a curse — I have been forced to eat healthy my whole life!

      However, it has been increasingly expensive to buy any food that does not have corn as an ingredient. If the gub’ment would stop subsidizing corn it would certainly be a first step to fixing this problem.

      Reply
    4. Sarah2 months ago

      Thank you for your perfect reply, Chip!

      Reply
  77. Joe America2 months ago

    I love the fact that comments must be “moderated” by the Pew. I guess the truth hurts.

    Reply
  78. Elizabeth2 months ago

    Are you actually referring to food or the, “Food,” Americans gorge themselves upon on a regular basis? Chips, soda, cookies, crackers, or other processed crap is not food. These are fillers full of calories and extremely cheap in comparison to real food.

    Reply
  79. Suzi Roe2 months ago

    People…realize that in America poor people can get food stamps, and medical care. They CHOOSE to eat junk, smoke cigarettes and drink beer. You CANNOT make them eat right. I raised 10 children on below poverty level income. I CHOSE to cook nutritious foods…simple foods. My weight is 130lbs. and I’m 5’5″. My children were never in the hospital, never had a broken bone, nor did they have dental caries while at home. I was in the hospital only to have my babies. After my 10th child was in 2nd grade, I went to nursing school. Now I continue to work, and in excellent health and am a Red Cross disaster nurse. I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I CHOSE the healthy lifestyle for my family and myself. I saw MANY who had food stamps buying junk OR selling them, then buying cigarettes, drugs or liquor. People are responsible for themselves , let’s stop thinking we can run others’ lives or believe that by pouring more money we can change them. Do you REALLY believe that would work? Food stamps didn’t!!

    Reply
    1. Nancy2 months ago

      Great post – totally agree.

      Reply
    2. jessica2 months ago

      That judgmental I don’t smoke and I eat right and so do my kids and I’m working my way off of food stamps don’t judge not everyone is like that..

      Reply
    3. Yifan Li2 months ago

      You’re a great mother but I do not agree with you. You can share your experience so we can learn the healthy lifestyle from you. Some people can make difference.
      There is a story. A child walking on the beach while there’re so much fish dying on the beach as the tide is back to the sea. So the child bent to pick each of them and throw them to the sea. There are large amount of fish, a child can not saving all of them. So the adult sleeping a few miles away, ask the child “who cares?” The child answer, looking at the fish dying on his hand, “He cares.” Then another fish threw into the sea, the child mourning “She cares.”
      Yes. We cares. Everyone can make a difference.
      I believe that people can understand each other and people can change.

      Reply
    4. Lisa UK2 months ago

      Congratulations to you

      Reply
  80. Zach Ellman2 months ago

    This study of lower food to table cost is a good thing… In the 1930′s people sometimes starved and had a harder time nourishing their families. This should be pointed to as a great societal achievement having food cost be the lowest in U.S. history, not the other way around. Making food unattainable due to monetary means is NOT the way to a healthier society, maybe to a socialist or fascist, but not to a sound minded individual.

    Reply
  81. Nick Wilkey2 months ago

    I doubt that food was processed in the 1930′s as it is today, sugar, salt and not to mention preservitives etc etc. As for fruits and vegetables, despite the continuing efforts to make them taste anything like they used too and the use of pesticides, herbicides and inorganic fertilisers, there is no wonder disease is on the increase, our modern agriculture needs to change. Lets support local and grow as much of our own food, thats what builds a resiliant community.

    Reply
  82. Bruce Drake2 months ago

    A number of commenters here have discussed the issue of obesity in relation to this chart. You might be interested in this survey we did on the issue last year:

    Public Agrees on Obesity’s Impact, Not Government’s Role pewrsr.ch/1hD4VlS

    Reply
  83. Steve2 months ago

    No way!
    Our food costs for quality food has gone up fourfold in the last three years.
    We spend 40 percent of our income on food.
    That graph is A joke.

    Reply
    1. MF2 months ago

      Nobody spends 40 percent of their income on food. That’s just silly. Do the math.

      Reply
  84. mark2 months ago

    This is a terrible article. While you may say we can get more calories per dollar than ever before that does not equal nutritional value. To believe such displays ignorance of both recent biological data and basic nutrition. For high quality food we do not pay less than other countries. Our food is extremely processed and less nutritious than many European contries and indigenous cultures. Also it doesn’t taste as good , which is the easiest way I can criticize American food.

    Reply
    1. Brooke2 months ago

      Maybe the price of food is cheaper overall. But if you look at the linked article, you’ll see that not all food is priced equally. The chart at the bottom of page 7 shows the price of fresh fruits and vegetables has risen dramatically compared to cakes, cupcakes and cookies.

      ers.usda.gov/media/224301/err55.pdf

      Reply
  85. Ian Edward Cleland2 months ago

    As the article quite rightly points out it is a quantity issue.

    The other side is a quality issue of the food we consume and like the US Australia falls into to same bag.

    I have always eaten well and now eat 30% out of my own food garden and buy most of the rest of the food the family eats from farmers markets and local shops, not supper markets. Also over the last 18 months I have lost 8kgs (17.5lbs). My goal over the next 8 month is to loose another 10kgs (off a high of 95kg (209lbs) I also fast for two days a week. I still drink to moderation and indulge myself on cakes and sweets. Just that they are occasional food. I have never seen what I am doing requiring a lot of effort but must admit I do not eat junk food.

    As a family over the last month we have reduced the cost of food by as much 30% to 50%.. It is not about cheaper or more it is about quality and eating less. We do not go without.

    There is also a movement that is taking back the growing of food grown locally in people own back yards (food not lawns), community gardens, roof top gardens and city farms. This is a global movement that is all about people in their local communities taking control of what they eat. Also children will eat what they are involved in growing.

    Unfortunately many are sold on what we are told by the media and advertising. It does not take much to move from the current situation to food system that provides a quality of food and quality of life. It is just a decision that we as individual can all make. It does require us to do something and not just expect others to do it for us.

    Reply
  86. Pearl Orlind Bailey2 months ago

    One remembers when butter was what? 25 cents a pound? Know avacados were a nickle, and gas WAS .25 a gallon. Things change. If all meats were $25.00 a lb. THAT, imo, may be better than factory farming!

    Reply
    1. MonicaC2 months ago

      I just paid $2.90/lb for grass-fed beef. Good food doesn’t have to be expensive.

      Reply
  87. Drew2 months ago

    Apparently, it’s not cheap enough because not everyone can afford it. This is a very irresponsible article and the title smacks in the face of every starving person out there on the streets. Enough food is produced now to feed the entire planet yet millions go hungry because of one thing: money. I think it’s about time we re-evaluate our priorities and look at what we’re doing to ourselves as a global community and break the shackles of debt and finance and actually feed, clothe and provide shelter for those who are not privileged enough to do it themselves.

    Reply
    1. Newt2 months ago

      Yes. This exactly.

      Reply
  88. Kim Hosking2 months ago

    In Australia, for my family of four to eat out, it is more expensive than preparing and eating food at home. We eat very well at home and whether we eat at a restaurant or take-away, the food is still cheaper at home. Maybe factoring in time and electricity would make a little difference, but not enough to convince me that eating out or getting takeaway is cheaper.

    Reply
  89. Shavonne2 months ago

    Healthy food is not cheap. Unhealthy food is cheap. Some of the people on here saying it is just laziness not eat better need to try feeding a family of five on $200 a month. Even if we all eat boxed cereal with milk for breakfast, eat boxed macaroni n’ cheese for every lunch and spaghetti with canned sauce for every dinner, you are looking at about $160 already. The healthiest item on that list is the milk and boxed cereal (if you count the vitamins they add in just to try and get any nutrients into most children these days). Not only is that pathetic but it also sounds gross. I spend hours trying to figure out recipes and meals, checking sales and coupons, etc. All of this, and I could still cry every time one of my children ask for something that we can’t afford to add to our grocery list. Do you know what it is like to tell your child that they can’t have the wonderful looking fresh watermelon, because the $6 it costs means two other meals you can’t get all the ingredients for? I never buy frozen dinners, but I certainly don’t condemn those that do. Heck, there are times that I look at some of those frozen foods and wish I could afford to get them. Anyone want to guess how many times my kids have asked why we can’t get corn dogs? or pizza?

    Reply
    1. MonicaC2 months ago

      Can’t you get food stamps?

      Reply
  90. Paul2 months ago

    Carefully prepared home cooking – which may easily be done in 20 minutes – is far more seductive than fast food, but usually healthier and less fat, and above all a real meal is mentally and sensually fulfilling – if not just swallowed, that is.
    It burns slower, leaving you satisfied for longer.

    But most folks don’t cook much and consumers are hedonists, so I’d say there is too little high quality fast food available – with sushi as a fortunate exception.

    Why is it that fast food and junk food have become synonymous?

    Reply
    1. Paula2 months ago

      sushi is full of salt

      Reply
  91. Andy2 months ago

    food isnt cheap. making it more expensive wont help the consumer neither. its about making healthy food and health information available. of course a lot of money will b spent on food, it isnt wrong. too much processed foods being consumed, thats the problem!

    Reply
  92. Alice Lahnstein2 months ago

    Food is NOT cheap. We are depleting our resources producing empty fast food. It is not cheaper in a rural setting, Karina – same if not more expensive. Keep in mind that when North America was discovered there were two billion tillable acres here.

    Starve the beast, eat at home, eat less (remember ration?), think of most of the world – not enough to eat…learn to cook.

    Reply
  93. Jamie2 months ago

    Thats not the case in Australia, and organic food isn’t cheap. cheap food-cancer make your own decision.

    Reply
  94. Blake2 months ago

    I am totally amazed at the conclusion of this report.

    With the lowest number of people in the workforce since Jimmy Carter was President (when I first voted), record number of people on food stamps/public agency entitlements, real wages contracting every year since 2008, and the price of all basic foods going up…no one can legitimately conclude that food as a percentage of one’s disposable income has gone done!

    Is this some sort of Democratic/Progressive hoax to continue to brainwash the already too ignorant masses that nothing is wrong?!

    Reply
    1. Shaun2 months ago

      Nice implying that all the country’s problems started in 2008 exactly or b/c of Jimmy Carter. Must have took some deep thought and analysis there.

      Do you rage against and ignore all information that challenges your worldview, or just this one? Maybe it’s time to step out of your bubble and realize life is more complex than your narrow ideology.

      Reply
      1. Paula2 months ago

        I don’t see any rage in Blake’s reply. It is a fact that 60% of Americans are on food stamps, and the wages did not rise since 2008-2009, neither did unemployment decrease. I see the prices for food tripled/quadrupled in the past 10 years, including the supposedly subsidized cereals, not so with salaries.

        Reply
        1. Andrea Caumont2 months ago

          According to the Census Bureau, 15% of Americans were receiving food stamps in May of 2013. You can see how trends have changed over time here: pewrsr.ch/1mkIiAv.

          Reply
          1. Blake1 month ago

            I work in THE Florida agency that is responsible for these benefits. I have first hand experience and can refute your statements personally.

            We have had the single largest increase in ‘entitlements’ of any state….and there has been no drop in dollar issuances or recepients.

            Unemployment rates have dropped….only because people have given up and taken to sucking the life out of the hard-working tax-paying public and those that ‘administer’ this agency have been all too happy to oblige. Whatever you think of Romney’s comments about the 47%, they are entirely correct…again I have first person testimony of the ignorant and myopic mindset of these folks…some even have economics degrees.

            Shaun, I wasn’t implicating Jimmy Carter (although I did learn from my mistake…something Democrats don’t do…accountability is something else that isn’t in their vocabulary). I was merely stating a fact that is repeated even on the mass media so supportive of Baraq Obama.

            As far as my narrow ideology…free enterprise/capitalism is the single most inclusive economic theory ever known to mankind…a blessing from our Father and bestowed upon the courageous and daring MEN that stood up the the oppression of a crooked ruler (not much different than the current situation). These ideology (coupled with the Judeo-Christian ethics that allow people to make ignorant statements) been responsible for lift the lot of mankind around the world, regardless of demographic characteristics.

            You are either a victim or perpetrator of the ‘progressive’ movements effort of revisionism…something that Lenin, Marx, Stalin, and Mao-Tsetung foisted on their ignorant/helpless peoples to enforce Communism. Socialism, Progressivism, and Communism are all synonyms….you can re-lable doctrine however you want…it is still what it is.

            And no, this isn’t rage!

            This is an informed opinion who has studied American History, European History, and Latin American History, has lived overseas and seen first hand the stark difference between responsible, hardworking people and lazy. Take heed, the times ahead can only get worse, for all of us, if people do not chose the course long traveled by this country….it requires hardwork, truth, responsibility, and self-accountability….virtues soon to be no longer seen.

  95. Dean2 months ago

    The reason people are fat is that fast and processed food is so cheap, it cost more to buy good whole foods then it does crap. Coupled with a sedantary life style, with more of us employed in sit down jobs then ever before and more sit down entertainment then ever before its pretty easy to work out.
    Make the producers of processed foods make it healthier. It has been proven that they will take out goodness and put in sugar etc to make it more addictive.

    Reply
  96. Jonathan Quist2 months ago

    “Cheapest food in history” is highly dependent upon what you are willing to consider to be food.

    I find that our food bills continue to rise, the amount of food we bring home is less than it used to be. But very little of what we put in the grocery basket has a UPC code on it.

    Still, the increased spend on actual food has more than paid for itself in reduced spending on diabetes and blood pressure medication, so I guess it’s a wash.

    Reply
  97. Karina2 months ago

    Not sure where food is cheap! Fast food and processed maybe but in a rural setting, produce and meat and milk products are expensive!!

    Reply
  98. Sammy2 months ago

    So what you’re proposing here is that more people go hungry? No food is not too cheap for our own good. Good fresh food is more expensive than junk, and harder to find. THAT is the problem. This article sounds like manipulation.

    Reply
    1. Martha Marsh2 months ago

      Amen to that. The article does not reflect what is honestly happening. Healthy foods are expensive. Most of the food available to without much nutritional value, therefore it best suits humans to consider gardening.
      I believe the statistics are not credible so the information is not credible

      Reply
  99. Judith Bush2 months ago

    having been in retail.I find the English just want cheap food how you change this i do not know I wish I did but the cheaper the better it seems to me watch them round the out of date shelves and the reduced buys .

    Reply
  100. christopher vaughan2 months ago

    Wow. An infographic that shows no actual change in percentage of disposable income to food cost, in complete contrast to what the author points out and a non-peer reviewed paper touted as fact.

    This is Just poor lobbyist science. Nice work guys, what does the campaign cost your client, monsanto?

    Reply
  101. Bob Smith2 months ago

    This article is an argument for the elimination of food stamps. It is proven that the lower income earners are the most obese. Perhaps personal responsibility could be at play here. Duh!

    Reply
    1. MonicaC2 months ago

      Hmmm. Not everyone can be a high-income earner, Bob. What would you do without retail clerks and warehouse workers to sell you your stuff? Walmart is notorious for teaching their workers how to apply for food stamps. Perhaps if the Walton family took some of their billions and raised their workers’ income a bit, we could eliminate some food stamp usage. Low-income earners, by definition, are responsible. They have jobs. Their lives are get up, go to work, come home exhausted, down some processed food, and stare at the TV until they go to bed. Why don’t they go to school? Because tuition is out of reach of many of them. And it is difficult to hold down a job and have enough brain power left to study.

      Reply
  102. Gregorey Smith2 months ago

    I resent the collectivistic nature of this article, first of all, there’s only INDIVIDUAL good, not collective good. Don’t tell me that food’s too cheap for our own good, this is the same kind of mentality you see in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China, and Marxist Venezuela. Big bad government deciding for the rest of us what our good is.

    Whether something is cheap or not is up to the individual, for someone making minimum wage food isn’t cheap, for some liberal journalist making $90,000 a year trashing corporations food is very cheap. It’s all a matter of perspective.

    “today less than 10% of Americans’ disposable dollars go for food. ”

    Thank God! How nice that we live in a country where we can spend our money on other things besides food.

    sellingthesecondamendment.com

    Reply
    1. Robert Bennett2 months ago

      Such as 46% of your budget on the military.

      Reply
  103. LarryW2 months ago

    Drew, Good basic statistical data, but I think there are a couple of ideas that are missing from your post.

    1. I disagree with the part of “modern” science that focuses on calorie intake instead of focusing on carbohydrate consumption! Most science not supported by the food industry will tell you that if we are consuming large amounts of Carbohydrates and less fat we will be burning the carbohydrates not the fats in our system. Thus weight gain is exaggerated by consumption of bread, pastas and sugars. Unfortunately these products are all cheap and the food industry loves to sell them to us in mass quantities. Continual reference to calories is misleading the public as to the real source of weight gain – carbohydrates. What do experts tell you to eat when you are stuck in wild – fat. You can live off of it longer than other basic foods. Take the bread away from the burger and the steak and we would all have more energy and less excess weight!
    2. Cheap food is not good for us primarily not because of calories which I pointed out above but because it is almost always laced with toxins from processing and “preserving”. When you add chemicals to foods that creates craving in humans then they will go back for more regardless of the consequences! The food industry in an effort to sell us more is slowly poisoning the American Populace and creating obesity for profits not our health!

    Thanks for reading and I hope Pew Research is willing to post this!

    Reply
  104. Allen2 months ago

    I don’t necessarily agree with your “Probably not.”
    If all groups had equal access to low priced, affordable, live and unprocessed foods I believe we would see a definite(but not complete) shift towards healthy foods. Not because the public is so altruistic. The shift would result because body chemistry would revert to a natural balanced state. When you were full your body chemistry would release the chemicals necessary to let your brain know it was full and the brain would regulate your blood sugar levels mitigating urges.
    The food industry, especially fast foods, uses food engineering to deceive the brain into thinking we are still hungry even though we just left Burger King having eaten a triple whopper, larger fries and a 32 oz. soda.
    I’m not a doctor or scientist so I won’t bore you with information that might not be spot on accurate. I’m just a type 2 diabetic that does a little extra reading on the subject.
    If you really are interested and want more information about the effects of sugar, carbs and processed foods on the body and the brain do an internet search for Dr. Mark Hyman. You’ll find it extremely interesting. Perhaps even enough so that the original conclusion from the chart of the week will differ and even the question about the chart.
    P.S.: Why did the researchers use the 1930′s as the period to compare with? That was the middle of the depression! The comparison seems irrelevent considering the economy and the accuracy of the data from that time. So many people were homeless or shy about anything to do with the government I wouldn’t be surprised if the percentage of gross income numbers for that period was much higher!

    Reply
  105. Lena G.2 months ago

    Appalled by the Title of the article.
    Has author ever tried to live on a salary that is equal to the cost of food?
    Majority of the people in the world work for food. And it is hard to call this a happy situation.

    Food is ok to be cheap, – this is a defining attribute of a society that is well developed.
    Moreover, it must be getting cheaper with years, otherwise there is no point in the progress of societies. otherwise there would be no point in working harder, no point in developing science and technology to produce nutrition efficiently to allow people to focus on higher values than just to satisfy hunger.

    Reply
  106. Noemi Hernandez2 months ago

    Hi Drew,

    In my experience, food hasn’t become cheaper BUT I agree FOOD SUBSTITUTES have. I agree it has become easier to have a filled stomach but harder to obtain the best nourishment from meals. I suspect it has to do with our fast pace of living, our technology driven society expectations and inherited presumptions that in the most part are not widely demythified yet. Do not take me wrong, I value technology but I understand it has served as a tool to overstimulate the mind and dismiss what when and how we eat.

    Nonetheless, I agree that food price is not directly related to eat less candy and be thinner (or as I’d rather say, eat better and be healthier).

    Reply
  107. yanis ertmanis2 months ago

    the short answer is yes.
    this kind of research delves into the symptom and not the problem.
    we, as societies have a ‘disconnect’ with nature and self sustainment, we are forced to comply to a system that relies on consumption and debt.
    i say that every child should learn to connect with nature and our solar system and basic respectful communication skills.
    that every houeshold get a credit for creating green spaces and gardens, aesthetic, creative techniques being shared on the net.
    farmers should be allowed street convoys of fresh goods as travelling markets that pass by neighbourhoods at scheduled times passing by seniors homes and places of immobility.
    learning to be survivalists as children and adults is very empowering.
    connecting with what feeds us changes this question posed by mr. Drew De Silva.

    Reply
  108. Marvin2 months ago

    Today, because of family duel incomes, more people are eating their main meal at restaurants or some kind of eating establishment. That food is usually high in carbohydrates and fat content. In addition breakfast by these same families is very basic. Which usually means no fruits or juices — a quick bowl of cereal that more than likely is full of sugar and carbohydrates. Families no longer are knowledgeable concerning what a real balanced meal is all about — just fast food. Consequently we have an America that is over weight and worse — obese.

    Reply
  109. Mark2 months ago

    I have been saying this for years…food is just too inexpensive and always available. Yes we make bad choices, but even good choices can be abused by eating too much of it.

    Reply
  110. rpw02 months ago

    Food is cheaper because corporations are paying the farmers, the pickers, processors and food handlers (in general) historically low wages. Thank you Pres. Reagan for killing the unions. Obesity is cheap now.

    Reply
  111. Henryk A.+Kowalczyk2 months ago

    It still needs to be proven that low food prices cause obesity. In my view, food became a source of satisfaction, earlier received from achievements in work, raising family, or from social activities. Why so many Americans rewards themselves with food, not real accomplishments in life – this is the question worth answering.

    Reply
  112. Jana, Slovakia (Europe)2 months ago

    This article is about many things to think about, it only depends from which corner you would like to look at.
    Each of us pays attention to the point which has hurt or in some way “touched” us.
    Is this article about obesity, about money we spend for food, about the style of our life ?
    I think that the main point is that each of us has a choice HOW TO LIVE and WHAT TO EAT.
    To eat canned / frozen food or to prepare a fresh food buyed on the local market ? To have one hour walking, running through the forest or to have an exercise in air-conditioned gym with no real oxygen ? To sit in front of PC/mobile phone/iphone whatever…or to ………..
    The fact is that the current generation generally eats more, moves less, sleeps less, spends hours sitting in front of computers/tablets/iphones etc. – more than desirable and necessary.
    Be honest to yourself – how many hours you have spent today in front of PC and how many minutes you really moved…..I am living PC now and go walking to move more and eat less :-)

    Reply
  113. Michael Callahan2 months ago

    Sorry, Drew, your article misses the mark! The only thing cheap about the Standard American Diet is its quality.1

    Yes, obesity in this country is on the rise. However, anyone who takes a stroll through their local grocery store will attest that food in America is not “Cheap” as in inexpensive. Food costs are way up. What is cheap and unhealthy about the foods in this country are the excessive amounts of processed sugars, fats, and preservatives that are in virtually every packaged food on grocery store shelves! It is this bastardization of our food stuffs that is a major conrtibuting factor for the obesogenic trajectory in this country. Combine this with the deliberate deception in marketing — leading people to believe that most of this junk is actually healthy.

    Yes, the poorest people are spending more money on junk food.2 That is because processed sugars and fats that have inculcated our food chain are less expensive that quality, whole foods.

    Michael Callahan

    1. chefcallahan.com/index.php/chef-…
    2. chefcallahan.com/index.php/chef-…
    Health Coach and Wellness Mentor

    Reply
  114. Idaho Edokpayi2 months ago

    And yet there are still millions who suffer “food insecurity”! Should we tell them to starve so the rest of us can be skinny?

    Reply
  115. John murley2 months ago

    People are fat because they make wrong choices. Wrong food choices, wrong physical exercise choices, choose to sit on their but ts more than be on their feet.
    People need to be free to make their own choices, but be personally responsible enough to deal with the rewards or consequences of those choices.

    Reply
  116. GaryM2 months ago

    This study is extremely misleading and should be contextualized for disposable income based on the number of incomes per family.

    In the 1970s, the majority of families had a single income as in comparison today where families require multiple incomes. If we normalize the across number of incomes, we find the expense of food is greater than double the percentage spent in the early 1970s based on a single income.

    Additionally the reference to the amount of disposable income expended on food in the 1930s as compared to today is abhorrent. In the 1930s millions of people were standing on breadlines as a result of nearly a complete economic collapse known as the ” The Great Depression”. The report cites 24% of depression period disposable income, as if there was any, was expended on food. Today, a majority of the poor in America expend over 20% -30% of their income on food, an amount greater than depression era poor.

    Second, the cost of healthier food, ie fresh, organic and free range, are nearly double the cost of processed food products. How can the the poor expend 40%-60% of their disposable income on healthier food ?

    Additionally, there are many other socioeconomic factors (stressors) which affect the health and fitness of the population which were either deliberately or ignorantly excluded from both the article and report.

    Pew Research and the author should reconsider the position of this article. This article rings of intolerance, discriminatory bias, ignorance and elitism.

    Reply
    1. Bob Smith2 months ago

      Dried beans, brown rice, frozen vegetables, chicken and eggs. Cheap – Cheap – Cheap! This argument that the poor cannot afford good food is totally bogus. It’s all about personal responsibility. I love the post here that blames Reagan. Too funny for words.

      Reply
  117. Alice2 months ago

    The lead is sort of buried. Increased AVAILABILITY of all types of food is what is leading to increased weight gain in all economic groups. When individuals are given more opportunities to eat larger portions of richer food, they will choose to do so more often than individuals who do not have that opportunity. Decreased cost of food is only part of the equation. More availability means more choice, and more choice means more of the choices will be worse for the average person.

    Interesting study, though. I don’t see why people get so upset when any sort of study of environmental effects on individual choice is conducted. Trying to figure out what factors influence various outcomes is sort of the whole point of science. If you don’t want public policy to respond to these findings in any way and just want to point a finger at the individual, fine. But denying the environment influences behavior is ridiculous.

    Reply
  118. Dnav2 months ago

    Other considerations would have to be:
    1) growth hormones used in raising food ultimately results in obesity
    2) fake sugars used in mass consumed beverages leads to more hunger and obesity
    3) corn syrup is mass consumed leading to more hunger and obesity
    4) fast food quality has diminished in direct proportion to the rise in costs to keep the fast food selling at the same price as before — in other words, instead of raise the price of fast food, they reduce the quality which reduces the cost so they can feed us crap at the same price they used to sell us food
    5) microwaving food UTTERLY destroys its life value and quality and turns it into a toxin that has increased cancer in society and made people fat

    Americans do not eat well——that’s an understatement. What I should have said is: Americans eat horribly and have life-killing diets.

    Why?

    Convenience. Ease. Laziness.

    Most have fallen into the deplorable habit of eating ultra refined and processed foods rife with synthetic chemicals and sugars that they then microwave and zap into a lifeless toxin, and happily eat it all in 15 minutes because they are too lazy to cut up vegetables, use dry beans and rice and legumes, buy non-hormone and non-antibiotic meat and cut it up, use potatoes (the actual real ones) and use spices that are rich in anti-oxidants and other beneficial things for our bodies and make their own wonderful foods cooking them without too much oil and eating absolutely delicious, scrumptious, exotic and wonderfully spiced foods that taste far better than the processed microwaved crap and it will give you life and make you healthy instead of feeding cancer in your body.

    Wake up America.

    Reply
  119. Jan Lee2 months ago

    You raise an interesting point. But I would first consider the poverty rate in this country, which for 2012 was 15 percent (you likely have more current numbers?). Researchers have also drawn attention to the lack of education in healthy eating as well, compared to previous generations. The concept of the three or four colors on the plate seems to have fallen away from practical use these days.

    There’s also medications that are in more much more abundance (for anti-anxiety and other issues) that have been shown to compound the problem of weight gain. One question might be what their effect is on metabolisms that are already suffering from weight gain because of lack of exercise, chronic illness, and other problems?

    But I find the idea that disposable income could be at the root of our obesity as a troubling conclusion for this research. It isn’t how much we have, or how much we have to pay, but the tools that tell us how we should use it. If that were the case, every individual over say, $50,000 yr would be obese, and every one of the 15 percent impoverished would be skinny, which isn’t the case.

    The fact is, incentives drive people to eat better, such as social encouragement and better nutritional education. They are key players in improved health, just as are the reasons we find to be active. Our problem in the US is our objection to the idea that societies need to present incentives to ensure all individuals have equal opportunities (ie, the Obamacare squabble), and that doing so requires better social programs.

    Reply
  120. Mike Secrest2 months ago

    This is a classic case of correlation being confused with causality, and it is simply nonsense. People are fat because they have little to no self control, perhaps combined with little or limited intelligence and bottom line: they don’t care if they are fat or if they do, they lack the will power to change their eating habits. People who do care and are intelligent will moderate the amount and type of food they eat, but this does not show up in the aggregates of which the author speaks.

    Reply
  121. Conrad Muller2 months ago

    Good plan. Compare today’s food costs to the most comparable period in recent American history, the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    Thanks Witness for some great points.

    Reply
  122. Mary Miller2 months ago

    A lot of great posts! I agree wholeheartedly with Arletta regarding the quality of the food the poor in this country have access to. I work at a church and while our food pantry helps families put food on the table – it’s all canned, jarred, processed and high carb/high calorie. Unfortunately, we just can’t afford to do otherwise.

    For those with more disposable income, it’s up to us to make the right choices. Supporting local farmer’s markets, cutting down on red meat consumption, buying free range/no hormone/no additive eggs, chicken, beef. Yes, it’s more expensive but if the “big stores” start to see a significant loss in their market share, maybe they’ll sit up and pay attention. I find the high incidence of breast cancer and girls developing breasts at a young age so troubling, yet as my now deceased father, who used to work on the research farm at the U. of Fl. once told me – the hormones and additives the cows ingest are never metabolized – they stay in the milk and the fat of the meat which we consume.

    Reply
  123. Remondo Hodges2 months ago

    Considering the fact that food might be too cheap for my families own good. I’m a person of integrity. I choose not to live on state funded programs, when I can’t even afford a cheap foods; but what I’ve learned over the last 90 days, is reaching my lowest point puts humiliation in my life. Then I see I don’t have food for my children, I go to the pantry and what I’m seeing is that the pantry has garden foods which are nutrition for our health. And the food is over all good for our bodys. And comparing the cheap food that we indulge in at the grocery stores and local markets are unhealthy for our bodies and we are at risk for more threat; of getting disease when shopping for cheep whole food.

    Thanks for sharing; Drew DeSilver.

    -Remondo Hodges (Personal Publication).

    Reply
  124. Jay Allen Howell2 months ago

    What a stupid question. Really. At a time when many, if not most Americans are having a harder time making ends meet, to say food isn’t expensive enough adds insult to injury. Here’s an idea…let’s start charging for air, too.

    Reply
  125. Dr D2 months ago

    Poor quality food is cheap, high fruitous corn syrup is cheap, beef raised in feed lots that are feed GMO corn, something cows were never intended to eat, is cheap, highly refined sugar is cheap. Organic vegetables, grass feed beef are however not cheap. Between big food and corrupt government, they have herded the unwilling & the unknowing into a health epidemic of over feed, undernourished population. Cheap crappy food is cheap, perhaps you might go back to your editor and try this again, with better perspective.

    Reply
  126. Jon2 months ago

    What is interesting to me is how few if any one that responded with comments actually went to the study (CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians) where the chart was taken from figure 4, page 6 of 11. The Pew researcher got what he was looking for by pulling out an older chart showing food expenditures as a percent of disposable income and was able to get the controversial commentary he was looking for. Just reading the executive summary about obesity and economic environments calls out some incorrect widely held beliefs about obesity. In fact, according to the journal authors, obesity is link more to increases in leisure time, increase fruit and vegetable intake and increase in exercise and that we have access to the cheapest food in US History across all socioeconomic groups. They go on to explain that weight gain is similar across all socioeconomic groups and geograhic regions. They go on to say that the “evidence for effective econonic policies to preveny obseity are limited. Political support has been lacking for even moderate price interventions in the United Stated and that this may continue until the role of environmental factors is accepted more widely.”

    Reply
    1. Mary Hodder2 months ago

      Jon, Additionally, there seems to be no inclusion of other factors currently being studied, and thought to affect obesity: plastics in the environment are thought to possibly be causing the tremendous weight gain, or those and other hormone mimickers like soy.. then there are the ways that refined carbs affect us (cheap or not).

      There are plenty of policy routes we could take but the Food Industrial Complex has too much political control for our good.

      Reply
  127. gary2 months ago

    We are FAT because we do not WORK. Americans have been indoctrinated by the left-wing liberals to believe that they are not responsible for their own actions. PUT DOWN THAT FORK.

    YOU ARE FAT, AND YOU ARE THE CAUSE.

    If you must blame anyone, blame our FOOD-STAMP-PRESIDENT.

    Reply
  128. JB2 months ago

    Addiction comes in all shapes and sizes. I recommend the new documentary Fed Up which compliments this article and the study it reports on: fedupmovie.com

    Reply
  129. Joel Brown2 months ago

    Making food more expensive in order to lower obesity is probably one of the more stupid ideas I’ve heard to date. People on food stamps and poor people would be the ones hurt by this idea. This solution could only be suggested by someone who never exprienced extreme hunger.

    Reply
  130. Cecelia2 months ago

    Cheap food in America is killing us. In order to change a culture the food needs to be good clean, organic, not full of chemicals and pesticides. We are over fed and under nourished population. I do see a movement taking place. Baby boomers are dying in record numbers from food diseases. The X, Y and Millenniums are waking up and making changes. There is hope!

    Reply
  131. Dr. Kael2 months ago

    As I was reading this article I was confused on what the author is trying to get across; once done with article, still and possibly more confused. Not well written.

    I’m sorry, where did, whoever come up with, if we were to eat more veggies and fruits that Americans would still be fat. That is a bunch of bull. Everyone I know including myself, when our eating habits changed to veggies, fruit, some dairy, and meat (especially white meat), we lost weight without including exercise; add exercise and more weight came off.

    But if the author wants to say this then maybe they should research GMO’s, cooking with microwaves, etc. Hmmmmm….these things could have a possible affect on the food we eat, which causes food allergies, weight gain, etc.

    Before writing an article, get your facts straight and try not to write like your still in grade school.

    Reply
  132. beth2 months ago

    Great and important posting.

    I also recommend reading Meatonomics by Dave Simon.

    Some points from the book:

    • The US government collects a small tax called a Checkoff on every cow, pig, chicken and other animal (as well as eggs and dairy products) that end up in our food system, and then uses that money to finance elaborate and catchy ad campaigns to stir up consumer demand. Yep, all those “Got Milk?”, “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner”, “Pork: the Other White Meat” and “The Incredible Edible Egg” campaigns have all been paid for with tax dollars. And they are effective! The USDA estimates that these campaigns, which collectively about cost $557 Million each year, drive additional consumption of animal products by more than $4.6 Billion each year.

    • The animal industries have become exceedingly skilled in the art of “regulatory capture.” They manage to install their allies and even their own exectutives into the leadership postitions at the USDA and FDA – the very agencies responsible for insuring a healthy, abundant and fair food supply for everyone – and then they make sure that all regulations coming out of these agencies primarily serve the narrow interests of the very industries they are supposed to be regulating. One result is that meatpacking operations have moved out of the cities and into rural areas where they can keep a low-wage workforce and keep most of their operations and practices hidden – restricting USDA inspectors or even replacing them with the company’s own people. In some states, they’ve even managed to install “Ag Gag” laws which make it a crime to record or report animal cruelty, unsafe or unsanitary practices and even criminal behavior.

    taken from veganstreet.com/bookreview-meato…

    Reply
  133. Tom2 months ago

    Which food is so cheap exactly? The stuff you can buy at supermarket? Tasteless, low quality, full of chemicals GMO that is often imported from China or some other places with non existent quality control. It is mass-produced so cheaply that is more economical to burn the surplus rather that ship it to those who may really need it. The big food manufacturers always do everything in the name of protecting local farmers.

    Reply
  134. Jim Burke2 months ago

    No serious person really wants us to believe that a family of four making $60k a year really eats only $500 in food a month? How ridiculous. This is not serious, this is a manipulation.

    Reply
  135. Rivers2 months ago

    Food = to cheap because
    industrial agriculture and food-production = to cheap because
    oil = to cheap because
    war = to cheap.

    Reply
  136. Chris2 months ago

    Try feeding 5 kids, food is NOT too cheap, particularly not quality food. I spend over $1,000 a month and that’s buying store brands, drinking water at restaurants that have kids eat free deals. If you want a garbage cheese burger it’s around $2.50. A semi-decent chicken sandwich from the same place is $4.

    Reply
  137. Peter Millin2 months ago

    This is a sad article. Only rich elitist would even think about this.
    The average income for a family of four is around $55000.
    I challenge the author of this sad piece of journalism and all of PEW research to try raising a family on that.
    You guys are an out of touch elitist bunch of hypocrits.#fail

    Reply
  138. Thomas Wood2 months ago

    This article is disgusting. “Poor people have too much to eat.” — What a synopsis.

    How do you guys sleep at night?

    Reply
  139. pol2 months ago

    Talking of America? Not too many people and more or less an exception to the rule. In Asia, Africa etc, where the billions live, food is too expensive for our good.

    Reply
  140. Kevin2 months ago

    To cheap for who? There are still people in this country that cannot afford food.

    Reply
  141. Witness2 months ago

    The rich are the thinnest and fittest. Food costs are always trivial for them, though they may garnish theirs with valet parking, celebrity chefs and maitre d’s.

    The trick is to prioritize health. Exercise can be very cheap, no gym required. Run, jog, bike. Lift weights from Walmart. And eat well, very well, just much less of the bad stuff. That’s how I looked at it in anticipation of retirement. I lost 100 lbs and walked briskly, daily.

    Retired, I now bike thousands of miles per year. I ride a 30 year old road bike and eschew the funny outfits bikers wear. But I have fun. Yesterday I rescued a gorgeous red-spotted garter snake sunning on the road.

    Reply
    1. gary2 months ago

      Maybe rich people are thin and healthy because they take responsibility for themselves, and have a direction in life other than being ENSLAVED to the GOVERNMENT HANDOUT.

      Reply
  142. David Webber2 months ago

    Ask yourself – what is the article not telling you? The TRUE costs of basic foods. All of which are totally manipulated by government. Eggs, milk, grains, bread, sugar, corn syrup, meat, fertilizers, chemicals with subsidies and kickbacks to industry producers. So low income consumers especially make poor food choices based on what is available to them, and the industry is happy to keep them consuming those. It would be easy to RED label unhealthy products with high fat, sugar and salt contents and GREEN label healthy products. Grocery stores themselves could do it. But then 85% of their shelf items would be RED. Go figure.

    Reply
  143. Austi2 months ago

    Where did this information that if we ate more fruits and veggies that we “probably” wouldn’t be thinner come from?

    Just by ADDING fruits and veggies to my diet and drinking more water I’ve lost 10lbs.

    Food is NOT cheap – not the food you want to eat anyway. Go to the grocery store and look for the dirty dozen for organic and compare it in price to regular – about a 1.50 difference!!

    Watch Food Inc. on Netflix and Forks over Knives, I recommend.

    Reply
    1. Caroline2 months ago

      Austi,
      I recommend talking to a local farmer yourself. Food in the U.S. is cheap compared to many other countries. Plus, if you are concerned with the health benefits of organic v. conventional produce, there is no scientific evidence it is healthier. It costs more to grow because it is more labor intensive. My father grows organic crops and he spends much more time in the fields than he did 10 years ago with conventional crops, but is able to earn more premium because of the high market demand. Not everyone can afford organic products and they are not the only healthy option.

      Reply
  144. Brad Deal2 months ago

    Sometimes I can’t believe that some people actually get paid for producing such shallow information. I am not a researcher but I do carefully follow the economy. If you look at the U.S. economy from a historical perspective, we have gone from a labor intensive economy in the 1800′s and early 1900′s to a less labor intensive economy since the mid 1970′s. In effect we have gone from a labor shortage to a labor oversupply. When people work hard, they stay thin and in good shape, but when they are sidelined because of the lack of work then they get fat. They get fat because there are no jobs….maybe these researchers need to read an economics history book.

    Out of work people are going to all the poor personal hygiene traits that accompany low self esteem, and boredom. This is not rocket science.

    Price of food too low? Try raising the price and see what happens. No jobs, no food and you get a revolution you bone heads.

    Brad Deal

    Reply
    1. Witness2 months ago

      Actually, listening to stories my parents told and reading old newspaper accounts doing genealogical research I got the impression that all that hard work frequently crippled and killed people. No “good shape” about it.

      Boy, I look back on the men of previous generations in my family and they had very, very unhealthy habits. When I was a kid you rarely saw people jogging. If somebody was running you assumed they were a criminal in a bind. Bicycles were for kids and Europeans.

      Reply
  145. Alexandre Karpov2 months ago

    OF COURSE it’s too cheap for our own good – like anything else that is subsidised by the government through theft and robbery, which is printing fiat currency and taxation.

    And agricultural subsidies are the worst.

    Reply
  146. Mark Keister2 months ago

    Oh, please! The foods are NOT food. The nutritive values are replaced, the freshness has been supplanted with preservatives, the chemicals for propagation and “pest control”, the tinkering with its genetic make-up . . . all because of profit motive for smaller and smaller “interest” groups. The data is clear; no need for all of the above save for that small group who profits.
    A better title and subsequent article: “People becoming less healthy: cheapening of nutritive values supplanted by chemicals”
    Do a little more research, please.
    P.U.

    Reply
    1. Witness2 months ago

      Let’s give society credit. We are living longer. The cold chain was an issue for my grandparents on back. That is solved. My parents WWII generation experimented with improving transport and shelf life – with mixed results.

      But today! If you shop carefully there is great food available and a much much greater variety. And the beers today! The best have never been better.

      Reply
  147. Paul D. Bain2 months ago

    The title of this article is, “Is food too cheap for our own good?” Well, if you believe that the answer to that question is, “Yes,” then perhaps you should take a good look at some of these charts:

    A) finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?t…

    B) finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?t…

    C) finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?t…

    D) finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?t…

    E) finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?t…

    F) finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?t…

    G) finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?t…

    H) finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?t…

    IOW, if you show me someone who thinks that food is too cheap, then I shall show you someone who does not understand that, over the next seven-to-ten years, food prices are likely to skyrocket, at least in the USA. The trend of the last several years is very, very clear.

    Food prices are about to take off into the stratosphere. Why? Simple. Because fuel, seed, and fertilizer prices shall soon rise sharply. Honestly, I do not understand why this is not obvious to everyone.

    – Paul D. Bain
    PaulBain@PObox.com

    Reply
  148. Kathy Sadler2 months ago

    As a regular British business visitor to the US, I find US hotel food very low in fruit & veg. Typically 75% of a meal at home is fruit or veg with 10% meat/fish and 15% carbs. In the US it’s more like 20:40:40.
    I have always struggled with a week’s trip so buy bags of apples as soon as I arrive, and live on baked celery or fennel with tomatoes when I get home. It usually takes me four days after a trip to feel better.
    It’s such a shame because you guys have the space & the climate to grow anything you like.

    Reply
  149. Christie Fox2 months ago

    am not sure exactly what you’re saying since bread used to be 59 cents and is now over $2.20. Each time gas increased so did the prices of food, and when the price of gas went down the cost of food did not decrease. The next time gas went up again the prices increased. That is NOT cheap to me in fact while half or more of America is standing in the food lines waiting to be served, another portion of us are out here eating condiment sandwiches or beans to get by. Neither could you mean cheap as in cheap to produce those foods since farms are going under from the high cost to produce plus drought, and those that can still grow food advise the soil is tired (lacking vitamins and minerals) so how is that cheap to put those things back into the soil? People aren’t fat from food, it’s from sitting too long in front of the computer or tv, or from the stress of being homeless or unemployed. Poor people can’t afford to buy veggies/fruits and buy what they can get.

    Reply
    1. Henryk A.+Kowalczyk2 months ago

      The loaf of bread as it used to be (normal, not the cotton style) is between $3 and $4. Good point.

      Reply
  150. Marquisa2 months ago

    Using this DOA chart for sussing out pertinent information and/or for
    indicators of causes of obesity is useless, leading to silly conclusions.
    Part of this is because of the chart’s use of non-indexed averages and partly because the data were gathered and provided without context. For example, the chart shows decreasing meals eaten at home (by whom? what age and income?)
    and a stable level of meals taken from outside the home (by whom, at what age, at what level of income or obesity, etc).
    Thus, one could conclude that Americans show seriously decreased rates of eating at all -from a high in 1970 to a much lower rate in 2009. Really?

    Reply
  151. W B Moore2 months ago

    No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s needs to be cheaper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is depressing when my wife and I go to the store, Because of high price’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But we are raising our 13 year old grandchild, and boy can they EAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  152. Butch Cummings2 months ago

    Are You Kidding Me, ” Is food to cheap in any Context” that ? Is not an option, where are you people, giving Food Producers &
    Grocery stores that kind of ammunition .
    Give Me A Break, Wake up and smell the Roses???

    Reply
  153. J.W.2 months ago

    Seems like an excuse to defend the imbalanced increase of the cost of living. Why would the writer even want to make society more expensive for himself? The excuse for the increase of dairy cost was shortages, yet there were never any shortages…anywhere. The excuse for the increase in pork products was some sort of disease creating a shortage of pork products, yet we’ve never seen a decrease in the amount of pork.. ever. Now the latest in the news is something about the shortage or rust on coffee beans which will lead to an increase of coffee prices. An increase in price here, an increase in price there.. the simple tunnel vision way of thinking will say, “Ahh it’s not that much.” Yet they don’t see that these unjustified increase of costs are happening in every aspect of their lives. This, along with automation of everything, will lead to an economic disaster for the masses.

    Reply
  154. Mr.Marcus652 months ago

    “And even as the real cost of food goes down…”

    Complete and utter bunk. Clearly this author hasn’t spent any time in a grocery store. Not only have prices gone up, but the suppliers/manufacturers/processors are doing their best to hide it, by reducing the size of the packages and charging the same prices. Pretty well known fact by anyone who actually grocery shops.

    As for the impact to our waistlines, this clueless hack is wrong yet again. While quantity of food consumed does play a role, it’s the quality of foodstuffs that we eat which is more important. And, today, more than ever are we being offered the crapiest foods possible. Thanks, in large part, to our federal government. Foods are being processed more, with questionable substances. Our “fresh fruits and vegetables” are being genetically modified, with the result being that we’re buying foods with less nutritional value, and irradiated to kill of what little is left.

    Reply
  155. Confused2 months ago

    How are the researchers arising at the numbers on this graph? My budget over the last 20 yrs and those.of my counterparts shows something vastly different. Along side the stagnation of the take home pay for the avg american worker. It should be criminal!

    Reply
  156. Maerzie2 months ago

    Food away from home is usually priced ridiculously high, considering staples used, difficulty or ease of preparation and serving, and 15% tip..

    Reply
  157. Phil2 months ago

    Only you are responsible for what is good for you and no one should be influencing let alone forcing you to make food choices. Plenty of information out there and you don’t need a degree to work out a healthy diet. If you want to overindulge then fine but remember that your cardiac is going to hurt.

    It surprises me that mankind’s most important product is not grown/raised to feed us. Farmers plant crops for profit. Distribution systems exist for profit. The shops exist for profit.

    Take away the profit from any of these and we will get hungry. If a crop is not deemed profitable then you wont be seeing it in the shops. Counted the varieties of apples lately?

    And the food will be going to the customer that offers the most profit.

    Reply
  158. James2 months ago

    As most research summary papers, its very difficult to assess the paper’s conclusion. However, the idea that charging more for food would reduce food consumption (particularly those that in fact do contribute to obesity) is naive and ignorant. Case in point, cigarettes. Prices have skyrocketed, but so have sales.

    The core issue is not the abundance of food, but the quality. And, the fact that company’s spend billions on advertising high-caloric, low-nutrition foods to us with extreme convenience, makes for a devilish relationship. How about this, a symbiotic relationship between FF and Rx? A real money maker!

    Fast food is possibly here to stay, but I have seen FF restaurateurs offering organic, higher-nutrition and lower-caloric products, which seem to hit a resonant spot with many of us. No reason to pump obesity down our throats, unless there’s a real commitment to sustaining a market for symptomatic Rx “treatments”. No curative there, just repeat buyers.

    What we need to do is take this research a couple levels deeper. Look at the root cause of obesity. Food can become a compulsive reaction to underlying social and personal issues. The FF industry leverages this by offering delectable delights available at a whim. However, we’ve seen the effects of “SuperSize Me” on mental, emotional and physical health. Probably not the goal of a compulsive eater, but definitely the impact.

    Let’s get smart about who we are and our good and bad habits and not put even more “bandaids” on the symptoms. That just masks the underlying issue(s) and creates more confusion to spend more time discussing. Cut to the chase. See what you really need and eliminate the rest. The market will follow.

    Reply
  159. Dmitry2 months ago

    Not true! Junk food is cheap but with all due respect it is NOT food! The real food is expensive and getting more and more expensive each day…

    Reply
  160. Phil2 months ago

    Seriously doubt the study or the method…food may be relatively cheap but the general idea that it is too cheap is wrong…What IS cheap is unhealthy food (packaged, processed and high calorie-soda) and this COULD be targeted by consumption taxes (like with alcohol and tobacco).

    The statistics in this article that I find strange (and therefore, calling the study into question) are 34% obese and 51% report regular exercise. That means 15% fall into a non-exercise, “normal” weight group. I would like to see articles like this report one or two salient points with a listed methodology. For example,
    If you state 51% exercise…state how you arrive at that number. If it is a low-return survey, I am suspicious. If it is a direct question/answer with no verification, I am suspicious. The bottom line is healthy (vegetable/fruits) food eaten in quantity IS healthy

    Reply
  161. Kate Joy2 months ago

    Very interesting article, however eating fruits and vegetables is economically unaffordable for most. Organic fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs and meats are off the charts.

    With that said, I’d like to suggest reading Lose the Wheat, Lose the Belly. The genetic altering of this anciet grain has made it’s glucose load worse than sugar. What is in most fast food and processed food? Wheat and other GMO foods such as corn and soy.

    I can’t eat a fast food fry because they are all processed and contain wheat.

    I know cutting wheat, non-organic meat, and all GMO foods probably saved my husbands life! He was diagnosed diabetic with blood sugar of 285. Within 1 week of that test and without taking any medications we lowered numbers to 165, then in another week to 120. He has now been below 100, normal, for 10 weeks. We cut wheat, white rice, sugar! He still eats like a king with minimal changes!

    Processed and fast foods play a factor not because of their price but the ingredients used in the products. I could create a healthy fast food menu and compete with the other chains. Look to Chipotle. A few tweaks to what I choose in the line and I have a healthy wheat free, corn free, lo carb meal that is priced very close to a drive thru meal.

    Next, I could spend a day talking about the availability
    of fresh foods. Politicians turned the water off to the central valley of CA for a bait fish. Hundreds of acres of land lay fallow. Demand for fresh and organic food grows but supply diminishes. Mexico now supplies what CA can’t ! Costs continue to skyrocket! A small container of blueberries at your grocery is $5.00. They come from Mexico.

    I appreciate your study, another interesting correlation, but it doesn’t accuratly diagnose the overall problem of obesity.

    Thanks :-)

    Reply
  162. oj2 months ago

    potnetially misleading stats

    -appears to be no mention as to how much disposable income levels have changed, could be that there is just alot more of this type of income or perhaps people are spending disposable income on other things. Inflation adjusted cost of food would be more interesting

    -per calorie cost of food is useless since lots of high calorie foods that are cheap would skew this stat (e.g. soda has lots of calories and is cheap…but is devoid of nutrients)…would be better to measure nutrient density of food

    -Would also be useful to see how much toxic load that are foods have now compared to earlier as this is what has made crops more resilient (RoundUp Ready ect.)
    Article compares apples to pears …technology has changed alot , and quality of food is not necessarily the same

    Reply
  163. ianthetaxman2 months ago

    Interesting soundbites coming out from this article and from the reactions of readers. Seems to me there’s a mixed opinion of the average US citizen, but this is mainly being commented on by the average US citizen?! – all the various permutations have been sited; poor, rich, working class, middle class, fat or thin, and in varying degrees and order.

    Everyone’s got their own opinion on where they are (and where others are) on the rich/poor and fat/thin scales, but pretty much everyone knows what they should done to resolve these issues. Problem is, as others have suggested, there is a lack of desire, need, ability or requirement for people to change what they eat.

    The political and financial arguments put out will continue whoever sits in the big chairs – that’s the world you live in. It’s not about being forced to do something, it’s about denial and just accepting excuses so you can try to be comfortable with yourself.

    To all those who think you have to be wealthy to eat well, do your research, to those who think the wealthy eat well, look around you.

    By the way, I live in Scotland!

    You can eat well/healthy on a tight budget, but

    Reply
  164. Merlyn Hall2 months ago

    The chart is confusing – especially the red line. How does the Percent of disposable income go down as a percent of disposable income?

    Also the title might as well be “Are Americans too rich for their own good?” I guess the author assumes the only way to make us better is to make us poorer. (If the cost of food goes up then we are poorer.) The logic is strange at best.

    Reply
  165. wb97532 months ago

    The real problem is not the cost. There is more societal pressure to feast almost daily then ever. At work people bring in sweets all the time to celebrate something. Many times to celebrate something or they want to show off their baking skills. This makes some feel obligated to try, to avoid hurting their feelings or they can’t resist after seeing and smelling it. If you’re from a big family or have many friends, then there is somebody’s birthday to celebrate all the time. Anytime you gather with friends the first thing you ask, what should I bring? I go bike riding with friends and someone actually wanted to stop during the ride for lunch. I think the only way to lighter living is to realize our impact on the problem. I’ve been to blame myself, wanting an occasion to be more fun by having yummy food around. Hopefully we can all come up with some ideas on how to celebrate without food. I would love to hear them.

    Reply
  166. Jeff Bryan2 months ago

    I’ll have a talk with my proofreader.

    Reply
  167. Jeff Bryan2 months ago

    Fig. 4 has me confused.
    Your Y axis is labled “percent disposable Income” (D.I.) and one of your data fields is labled the same. Using your first enters, how is your D.I.14% of your D.I. in 1970? And do the values of your other two data points corralate with the total percent of your D.I. or the ratio percent when conpared with the D.I. data points?

    Reply
  168. BRS2 months ago

    Even though cost is a factor (I believe) in the obesity epidemic, it is not the only piece of the puzzle. The obesity epidemic has many factors, and making a direct comparison of the cost of food between today and then as the reason for obesity is too simplified. It seems the assumptions made in this article is that the food people are buying is the same, has the same nutritional value (soil erosion has led to the depletion of nutrients in our food), and that what people report eating more of (fruits and veggies) can be taken at face value. Perhaps Americans as a whole do eat more fruits and veggies in 2010 than they did in 1970, but what else are they eating more of-processed food, do the fruits and vegetables have the same nutrient content, how are they eating them-via a frozen dinner, or fresh out of the garden. The obesity crisis is not something which can be “blamed” on one thing, there are many issues which need to be unwound-availability of fresh food, affordability, a culture which encourages excess and convenience, the contents of processed food (some which have been shown to be addictive) and the lack of movement-sitting is the new smoking, yet we’re not doing anything about it. This list is not comprehensive, but I think it would be a great place to start to unwind the obesity epidemic.

    Reply
  169. Alan2 months ago

    This is more than just eating more. Processed foods which were regulated to a large extent to T.V. Dinners and were by far the exception in the 1970′s is now a part of almost every meal we as American’s eat.

    These high fat, high carbohydrate foods do not have the nutritional value of whole foods and they are higher in calories. For convenience we have given up regulation of what is put in our food. Manufactures are here to make money and make things taste good so you buy them again. If upping the sugar and/or fat content and reducing more expensive things can still make something taste good…so be it. Just the other day I looked at 10 different cottage cheese ingredients and was shocked at the added ingredients in most of them.

    The idea of exercise and even eating “healthy” (such as salads, substituting squash for pasta, etc) was very rare, but more people were not obese.

    There is not one simple answer, but I don’t see too many people that are obese (over weight yes) that just eat whole foods prepared from scratch at home.

    Reply
  170. Dustin2 months ago

    I get so tired of terrible one sided journalism in order to try and prove a political agenda to the uneducated.

    The author is mis skewing the facts on purpose. Look at their data points. They chose the depression era when 25% of the public did not have a job so of course the ratios would be off. I would like to see a chart over the last 200 years.

    Food is cheaper now only because of the American farmers advanced tech advances. However it appears the only products being being made anymore in America and exported is food. If you study world wide demographics you will see this is why you are seeing a sky rocketing prices at the store and its only going to get worse. The days of cheap food in America are over as we have to feed the world.

    If the author was interested in the truth he would have included a graph with the cost of wheat over the last 100 years compared to inflation. The graph included is to easily manipulated based on incomes as it relates to economic down turn.

    As to “cheap prices” causing Americans to be “fat”. Give me a break. The price of food was way cheaper for my parents generation and they dont have that same problem. The problem stems from lack of activity and the TYPES of food we are eating i.e. processed food.

    Reply
  171. Terry Brooks2 months ago

    This is happening in the uk as there are so many cheap deals about buy one get one free but the deals end up in the bin .

    This is a false sale people think that the deal is a good one but in reality they are putting there money in the bin .
    If prices were managed instead of managed for greed of money.

    Reply
  172. Paul Phillips2 months ago

    I’m pretty sure when I was a kid in the 1950s, in the UK, food was 50% of household outgoings. The roof over your head (rented) was 10%.

    Today it’s the other way round, and the price we pay is: we don’t know what we’re putting in our mouths, unless we buy fresh (and even then, sometimes) and the roof over our head is a stress that might eventually cave us in.

    Not that I believe there’s anything we can do about any of this – the political will is not there to cap the price of property, nor to revert us to seasonal fresh food, locally sourced and trustworthy. Everything must be about choice, and sometimes (frequently) we don’t always make the right choices.

    Reply
  173. sarah2 months ago

    The research is just as flawed as our attempts to measure obesity. Currently the medical field uses BMI which only factors in height and weight. But an athlete will weigh more than one who is the same stature and eats worse as muscle is more dense than fat. I work out religiously and eat healthy, but am considered boarderline “obese” even though I’m thin because I’m short and have natural curves; no diet and exercise can correct for genetic boobs and ass. While my best friend on the other hand has a super healthy BMI and is a twig even though she rarely works out andconsumes soda and junk food all day long

    Reply
  174. Rhys Ludlow2 months ago

    Well, this article makes me feel better about my recent decision to cook more, buy more (mostly) organic food, and invest in a food saver so we can exercise portion control and cook-once-eat-twice.
    The difference in price can be from 25% to double the cost of gmo-fed, antibiotic – injected, pesticide-laden cheaper food. But perhaps that’s what food “should” cost.

    It bothers me that I can afford to make that choice and others must take advantage of the false economy of industrial food.
    Ultimately it costs more to get sick than to pay more to eat well.

    Reply
  175. Vince2 months ago

    This is a dumb article, pure and simple. It is hard to know where to start. At best, It is another control issue push by the central government fanatics, “See Obama is keeping prices high to keep you healthy.” Look at Michelle pushing eating right for the “little people”, all the while eating 2000 to 3000 calorie dinners of French Pastries, steak and cake at their parties practically every night. As someone has already pointed out. This “research” stopped at the beginning of Obama’s economic “recovery”. A “recovery” that is doing so well, that James Carville has advised Democrats not to use the word in their campaigns. I am not sure what the comparison of food to electricity or postage stamps means. Anyone that thinks that food is too cheap, either hasn’t paid for it or isn’t paying for it such as on welfare and food stamps. Abundant food also means that we can afford to give food to all of the Socialist experiment countries in Africa and other continents, which is again subsidized by American taxpayers. For those that are blaming this on this whole notion of the 1%, the top 2% pay more than 50% of the taxes, the lower 50% pay no taxes and over 47-million households are on welfare. By the way, I have seen a lot of fat people on inter-generational welfare, including in the 70′s. This is just another skewed Pew “report” that the Washington Compost will use in another of its Democrat-approved stories.

    Reply
  176. G S2 months ago

    When I hear cheaper food I think grain based foods. Same stuff they feed animals To fatten up profits. People can’t eat that way and expect healthily results. At least it will justify Socialised “health care”.

    Why not mandate a raw organic shop on every corner instead and fine citizens for not eating there.

    Reply
  177. Michael W2 months ago

    May I strongly suggest the author spend more time at a supermarket. A wide group of people in my area area earn 15-20 dollars/ hr. We use a full day income on gas and groceries, the other 4 day income on bills!

    Reply
  178. Walter2 months ago

    The problem is not in the price but the terrible ingredients! Biotech has invaded our basic ingredients like sugar and grains and is slowly killing us by changing the natural molecular structure of sugar and grains like Wheat to unnatural end-products for us to consume.

    Read “Wheat Belly” and learn how we are being damaged by companies that care only about more money and profits than about what their products are doing to mankind.

    I’m not condemning “Capitalism” but rather the unscrupulous members of our “Capitalist” society, the “Bernie Madhoffs” of the world who’ll do anything for a buck including ruining our food supplies.

    Read the labels of the foods you purchase. Look for High Fructose Corn Syrup and avoid buying products that contain it.

    Avoid wheat at all costs! Many so called “Whole Grain” and “Multi-grain” products are really just a health issue in disguise.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  179. Angele Wood2 months ago

    The “cost” of food, as our American Society is currently paying, at the moment does not reflect the True Cost of that food.
    When the price paid for the food we consume actually reflects its cost to us, then what we pay for food will begin to teach us to consider the source of that food/food service.

    Reply
  180. Seth2 months ago

    Where in the world is food getting cheaper? In the last few years just going out to breakfast, the cheapest meal to make, the prices are going up from $6 a meal to 8, 10, 12 for the same thing it was just a 5yrs ago. Also, speaking of fast food. Remember when taco bell was 59 cents? What is it in your area. In Utah where I live it’s $1.29 a taco. By this chart my taco should be 40 cents. Also meat is on the rise like crazy. This chart doesn’t make much sense with the amount of inflation that has been happing for all goods across the board over the last 5-6yrs.

    I guess if you only eat McDonalds then yes, your food is really cheap.

    Reply
  181. JAAZ2 months ago

    Yes crap food is cheap because it’s heavily subsidized.

    One Can grab a full happy meal with toy and drink for the price of a couple of apples. Let alone the ridiculous billions that goes in to advertise this.

    How does that make sense? Wake up people.

    We should push our Government to subsidize natural healthy organic food, and the avg person will afford to live healthier and be less reliant on health care in the long run.

    It’s so simple yet we don’t act, why?

    Reply
  182. Richard2 months ago

    The “correct” price for food (or for that matter any goods or services) is whatever an unrestricted market will bare. It is when government attempt to control prices either by creating a floor (price support) or a ceiling (price controls) do you have an imbalance in price and demand which has a negative effect that ripples throughout society and the economy.

    Despite what modern day socialist economists and politicians say a total unfettered free market yields the greatest good for the greatest number of people. (For more on why this is true read Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics and Applied Economics.)

    Back to your question, since the US government has price support programs on most if not all farm goods the struggling American families are paying too much for food. Does cheap food lead to a fat society? Maybe. But not as much as TV, video games, and computers, lack of sleep, not enough physical activity. But what the high price of food does is needlessly drain the family of resources, which can be used to better their lives – like by a gym membership.

    But will not lower food prices drive farmers to ruining? No. Only the inefficient ones and those who depend on government price support will be negatively affected. The inefficient farmers will benefit due to the higher demand of food.

    Reply
  183. Andy2 months ago

    Not everyone lives in the USA

    Food is not as cheap in other countries, even the better off European countries.

    Be grateful for what you have and dont think every one else is as lucky as you!

    Reply
  184. wjr2 months ago

    More food Nazi propaganda from those who want you to live as they say.

    Reply
    1. Mike2 months ago

      Obese people cost more to care for in the medical system. So every ones costs go up it affects us all.

      Reply
    2. D2 months ago

      Um, what? Who are you referring to?

      Reply
  185. Bob2 months ago

    Americans are exercising more but eating the wrong diet. Sugar and bread are killing us…

    Reply
    1. Bob Soper2 months ago

      Well if sugar & bread don’t kill ya, something else will.

      Reply
  186. SweetDee2 months ago

    I disagree with the thought process behind this article. Yes – junk food is cheap but that is because government and lobbyists representing large American chemical companies want it that way. Our food supplies should be chemical free and organic from the meats we eat to our fruits and vegetables. The government should not be throwing money to these chemical factories that promote GMO corn, soy and other mutated foods which produce the ingredients in cheap junk food. Once government subsidies stop, maybe we’ll be on the right path to a clean, unadulterated food supply that everyone can afford.

    Reply
    1. Spence2 months ago

      My thoughts exactly. This article is just propaganda. Neglecting to mention that much of the content of modern “food” is actually not food at all is irresponsible reporting and research.

      Reply
  187. Lukas2 months ago

    Yes, very likely the cost of the food doesn’t not have direct correlation with the obesity of the nation, however to explain why such a big portion of US population can be obese one of my observations from my recent trip to US. I am from Central Europe and 3 weeks ago I attended a 3 day training in Pittsburgh, PA. There were around 13-15 people in a class and what attracted my attention was the fact that during breaks when people were eating some sandwiches or pizza or other food, each and every one! was drinking soda drinks (coke, sprite etc.) while eating! There was no exception at all!
    Generally speaking, it is not healthy to drink even pure water along the way when eating. Though all these people were drinking sweet drinks which makes it even worse. Having 100% people of the small group following the same rule gives us an idea what is a common habit in the USA, not to mention that people in the US love to eat fast food (junk food).
    Guys, really consider this!

    Reply
    1. rustom2 months ago

      I don’t understand why “it is not healthy to drink even pure water along the way when eating”.?

      Reply
  188. Steve2 months ago

    Look, when you’re poor, you eat cheap food. Cheap food tends to be worse for you, like boxed mac ‘n cheese. Bad food is subsidized by Congress to make it cheaper through corn and soy. Hard to eat well when all you can afford is bad food.

    Reply
  189. Judith Bron2 months ago

    Food is not cheaper than ever. Produce prices are rising and meat prices are increasing by the day. The government is more than happy to label anyone one pound more than their BMI as obese even though such a person on a crash diet would be killing themselves. Then again if a person is dead the government won’t be paying for their health care. Lets go back to the family doctor and mirror telling a person if they are obese rather than a government that is afraid of paying another dollar towards the medical care of someone defined as obese rather than the common sense of a physician and a person. I submit that the government is defining obesity in a self serving manner rather than basing the label on any medical definition. Judith Bron

    Reply
    1. Paul Phillips2 months ago

      Of course food may be more expensive this year than it was five years ago, but it is cheaper than it ever was in history. It costs about 20% of what it would have cost a family in the 1950s in the UK. Cheap food is not a right; it’s a political and sociological construct.

      Reply
  190. William2 months ago

    This is another example of scapegoating, if you ask me. People who eat too much and make bad nutritional choices are the problem. The fact that the wealthy and better educated in our society are less obese disproves this argument.

    Reply
    1. Robert Mishaan2 months ago

      Many of our schools offer popular fast food for lunch. When kids grow up thinking that that is a normal diet, it is no wonder that they fall into bad eating habits. Combined with the fact that unhealthy food is cheap (subsidized), convenient and available everywhere, it is not surprising that obesity and diabetes has become common.

      Pointing that out is not scapegoating. It is an attempt to get people to think about what they eat and, hopefully, make better choices.

      Reply
  191. Carroll Wade2 months ago

    Food is too cheap , when compared to the cost of a postage stamp or a gallon of fuel or a KWH of electricity or a pair of blue jeans . How about building materials or a car or a pick-up truck . People don’t even understand how great of a bargain they get when buying food . Food in the USA can be purchased at a lower per cent of annual income than any where else in the world . Whether one buys healthy food or not is purely a matter of personal choice . All the other issues don’t mean a thing as far as this article goes . They are important but unrelated to the article . The author should have just talked about cheap food because all the other is speculation ..Food is too cheap period !!

    Reply
    1. Annoyed Reader2 months ago

      Food cheap? I’d like to know where you shop.

      Reply
  192. Che2 months ago

    How does one locate the price of food as “disposable income”? Seems to be a basic need, a survival requisite, however you want to express those thing that are not whims, like a ballgame a movie or a new bike. Paying to dine out of the hose may be expressed in terms of “disposable income;” but here is the slippery slope of if I have to work multiple low paying jobs, when do I have time to shop for and prepare all this “food that is too cheap?’

    Bottom line: This is a poor informational article…pure title hype; made me look. You win.

    Reply
    1. G S2 months ago

      Yup

      Reply
    2. Wyatt2 months ago

      Please look up the definition of disposable income before trying to correct. I think you are confusing disposable and discretionary income:

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disposable…

      People need to fix their discretionary spending on things like Iphones, cable/satellite, fashion clothes, etc. and focus on the return on investment of their purchases.

      Reply
    3. Simple Truth2 months ago

      Totally agree. Food is a basic necessity and should not be confused with dining out.

      Healthy unadulterated food is not cheap at all!

      Regarding the sharp increase in obesity, it is not only sugar, fat, and salt to blame. They are okay in moderation as they have been a part of the traditional diet for ages. It has a lot more to do with the introduction of the new chemicals and the brave new world of GMO. Polluted, chemically treated (e.g. glyphosates) and adulterated food (e.g. artificial sweeteners) is responsible for the obesity epidemic coupled with sedentary jobs and lifestyle. The fatty tissue accumulates those toxins in response to consumption of such foods and it stores more and more fat disrupting the metabolism and causing hormonal imbalances. The solution of chem-agri-pharmaceutical lobby is to give you, the consumer, even more chemicals and the vicious cycle continues. Who profits? Them, of course, chem-agra and pharmaceutical companies. Fat and sick consumers = fat profits of ethically sick chem-agri-pharma.

      Reply
  193. Les2 months ago

    What’s this constant reference to “we” Americans. America is made up of 330 million individuals with the ability to make choices. Every over weight individual knows why their fat. The real question is why do people continue to abuse their bodies with crap food, tobacco, drugs and alcohol when there is cheap and abundant information illustrating how these things put their health in jeapordy? My answer is people’s desire for short term pleasure trumps any long term consequence.

    Reply
  194. Hugh Cameron2 months ago

    Maybe you are all jumping to conclusions. The chart just shows averages that hide what is really happening.
    Total disposable income has risen by about 40% since 1970 – but all of the increase has accrued to the top 10% of households. These people have always been able to eat as much as they wanted to. Their income has gone up, but they don’t need (and don’t want) to eat more. So their spending on food has declined as a fraction of their disposable income.
    For everyone else in the 90%, it’s likely that their food spending has stayed flat, like their disposable income.

    Reply
  195. Debirah Holland2 months ago

    This does not reflect reality where I live. In Canada food costs have increased 20% in the last year. I found the article annoying. It makes a provocative statement and doesn’t substantiate the facts. On the whole, a useless article

    Reply
    1. George2 months ago

      I would say food prices have increased that much in the US too…

      Reply
  196. Igorian2 months ago

    I didn’t read all comments but, did anyone else notice that the research ended only one year into Obama’$ first term? No the $ was not accidental. Cost of food has skyrocketed into the cosmos. Perhaps a bigger reason we’re fat… improper food portions at restaurants just so they can make more money.

    Reply
  197. Lovina Roe2 months ago

    No I don’t think food is too cheap for our own good. Good food can never be too cheap. BUT what has happened is that portions have increased. In supermarkets it’s very difficult to buy small quantities of anything. In restaurants, unless I ask for a half portion the plateful which arrives is enough to feed two people, sometimes more.

    The fashion for coffees which arrive half full of full fat milk does nothing for waistlines either. Also, I remember reading that salesmen invented the “snack time” so that they could sell fattening biscuits and cakes.

    Also nowadays we bolt our food so that we overfull our stomachs before they get the chance to register with our brains that they are full.

    And what about sugar substitutes in all sorts of different foods?

    No. It’s a good thing that good food is cheap. We just have to learn how to eat it.

    Reply
  198. Ruby2 months ago

    Persoally, I think you are out of touch with the true average American trying to make ends meet. Fatty ground beef @ $5 a pound, $3 for chicken legs, $1.50 for bony necks oh yeah, so affordable, forget the occasional steak $10-15 + . Not affordable for the general masses. Yes we should eat less meats agreed. I also feel that the majority of the U.S. doesn’t live in high rise facilities with take out on every corner, we live and eat at home most days of the week. New York City life isn’t realistic for most of us, even Los Angeles life isn’t life as most people live, there is a vast country in between and their lifestyles and eating habits don’t seem represented in that statement.

    Reply
  199. Elaine2 months ago

    I think the logic here is a bit simplistic. When you’re talking about food, do you mean junk food, which is extremely cheap and very fattening? Most establishments that sell this type of food are located in poor neighborhoods where fresh fruit and vegetables are rarely available, and when they are, they’re much too expensive for those living in so-called “food deserts.” I’m a vegetarian; I consume about 1200 calories a day, and my food bill is much higher than when I was buying meat and processed foods. Organic food is priced very high because farmers who grow organics have to pay licensing fees that other farmers don’t. Also, there is a reason junk food restaurants tend to be located in these food deserts; you don’t see a Taco Bell or a McDonald’s on every corner when you get out of the poorer, less educated locations and into middle- and upper-class locales because the residents there would block them, and they have more money to buy the more expensive organic foods.

    Reply
  200. Catherine2 months ago

    In addition to the immediate issue of increasing BMI’s there is another issue, just as important, and that is one of the sustainability of “cheap food.” Continuing to produce it wreaks havoc with our natural resources and farmers. In the interest of “big business” livestock are medicated (growth hormones, antibiotics) and fields that grow crops are no longer left fallow and then pumped full of chemicals to sustain fields season after season. In order to keep up with production of both, we suffer the consequences of genetically modified food, antiobiotic resistance, and the list goes on. All in the name of “lost leaders” at grocery stores promoting goods to attract the customers to feed their own bottom line.

    I wonder about a system one day, wherein people respect natural resources, and are paid for socially responsible business practices. Increasing demands for increasing profits is a “no win” in the end, because money won’t be able to save anything, if there’s nothing left to save.

    Reply
  201. Jim2 months ago

    Yes, anecdotal progressive hit piece full of flawed data. First, lack indexing for inflation. Second, the definition of obesity has been redefined by the government. Third, recites data from the USDA which has become an irrelevant and possibly corrupt source of data. Fourth, food manufacturing costs are done significantly due to automation and greater batch control.

    This is an obvious political piece used to scare and confuse the masses. Makes we wonder who this writer really works for.

    Reply
  202. Charles Lott2 months ago

    The premise for the question “Is food too cheap for our own good?” is flawed. Those who overeat generally do so for reasons (or excuses) that have little or nothing to do with the cost of food, so for the most part more expensive food would not dissuade them. Some are compulsive eaters, and others eat “comfort food” to make themselves feel better. Others have dumping syndrome and likely never get enough to eat for their bodies’ needs. I will add, however, that if any “food” is relatively too cheap, it’s “junk food”, and that is only in comparison with healthier foods.

    Reply
  203. Robert2 months ago

    In my opinion your data is out of pace with today’s prices. Food has not declined in price but increased due to weather, environment and economics. My refrigerator is less full today than it was 4 years ago and I don’t eat out every night maybe once a week as restaurants prices have also increased, I buy what I need and no more. I can’t wait to see what happens if the minimum wage goes to $10 an hour, I think prices will increase even more and the businesses will have to cut workers so as not to raise prices even more.

    Reply
  204. Peter Galea2 months ago

    Interesting, maybe make exercise more affordable… :)

    Reply
  205. Jan2 months ago

    These statistics are 5 years old. Whoever wrote this has not been recently shopping in a supermarket!

    Reply
  206. Kyle2 months ago

    This is more propaganda in the eugenics movement. The organic food movement grew out of the environmental movement, which grew out of the eugenics movement.

    Reply
    1. Bob Soper2 months ago

      Oh, the practice of promoting healthy soil while discouraging the dumping into our environment (and bodies) pollutants such as pesticides, herbicides and petroleum-based fertilizer– that practice springs from “eugenics?” Golly. Seems like a bit of a stretch, if you ask me.
      I suppose one could also say “Hitler went to art school, therefore every aspiring artist has nazi tendencies” and it would make every bit as much sense as your assertion.

      Reply
      1. Kyle2 months ago

        The connection is there if you choose to study it.

        Reply
  207. John Henry2 months ago

    So is gas too cheap, maybe cars, homes, clothing, medcal, how about education? That is why we have competition and supply and demand, to keep prices competitive (cheap). We have free will and all of us make less than optimal decisions. I would ask this, would you prefer forced starvation?

    John Henry

    Reply
  208. David2 months ago

    I think it may be too simplistic to correlate obesity with the falling price of “food.” First, what is defined as food? I am sure many people would prefer pesticide-free food that are GMO-free. Should foods with artificial flavors, colors and preservatives be considered food in the first place? Food companies will and have found newer chemicals to reduce the cost of manufacturing food (replacing cocoa butter for example). Sounds like synthetic chemicals can also contribute to obesity.

    Reply
  209. Peter Karry2 months ago

    Are you trying to starve out the poorest families in the world !! Food cannot be considered cheap and someone seems to be out of touch when writing the headlines. There may be a problem with the creation and promotion of “junk food”, and this is not the same as making cheap staple diets unreachable or unsustainable. How do you stop people exercising their right to choose what they eat ?
    I suggest that this article needs to approach the real issue of obesity from another angle.

    Reply
  210. Jay2 months ago

    This whole article is based on a false premise . . . food costs are NOT cheaper than ever … absolutely or relatively as a percentage of income. It is only the junk food that is cheaper than ever which is why we have an obesity problem. Good/Healthy food like meat, dairy, and produce are more expensive than ever! Our family grosses $100,000 per year and we easily spend over 25% of our income on food . . and that is with coupons and simple living.
    It is what we struggle with each pay-period . . what food can we get this week and what food do we have to sacrifice off the list for this week.
    THAT is why increasing taxes kills the middle-class . . we make too much to get financial assistance and we make too little to have much in the way of savings and growth.
    We need to stand and let our voices be heard with our vote.

    Reply
  211. George2 months ago

    Just the headline on this article angers me to no end. The cost of food has nothing to do with people being overweight. Its the quality of food that is being slopped to us like hogs. All those chemicals and preservatives and GMO’s is the main if not the only reason this whole country is sick is because of those things. Food prices are not cheap even for the junk food. My family eats mostly organic foods and sometimes its cheaper to buy that instead of the regular junk. I spent $15K last year just on food. That is a ridiculous amount of money to just eat. My food bill is higher than my mortgage and the only other thing that is higher than that is the amount of taxes I pay. I am being taxed to death directly and through inflation. It is for this reason that we never have money to upkeep my home or have the ability to save any money for retirement. I will literately have to work until I drop dead. I feel like a slave to a system that wants to keep me sick and under its thumb. What you should be asking is “Why are they deliberately poisoning us with our food?”

    Reply
  212. Drakorus Fellwing2 months ago

    The point of fast food is more to do with the people buying the food than it being provided at cheap prices… Increasing the costs of food causes unnecessary hardship on everyone.

    Reply
  213. Rob2 months ago

    Food is not cheap where i live (Colorado). And Fabiana Garibotti hit the nail on the head. The quality of the food you are buying makes a huge difference in the price you pay. Are you buying those pre-made burgers that are made up mostly of pink slime and gristle? The burgers where the manufacturers have to put the word “meat” in quotes? Or do you buy organic or natural meat with lower fat content.
    If you buy quality food across the board then your food bill is going to nearly double. If you buy crap it’s going to be cheap and fattening and you will get fat (or at least fatter) faster. Like everything, quality matters and you get what you pay for.

    Reply
  214. John A. Kennedy2 months ago

    The article title and theme indicate an extreme lack of compassion for the “poorest 20% of Americans [who] spend about a third of their disposable income on food”. There is no evidence presented here that ” unprecedented abundance is largely responsible for why we’re so fat.”. The true roots of obesity are known by the medical community to be complex. The results as presented in this article are mere correlation.

    Reply
  215. Arletta2 months ago

    The cause of obesity in this country is fast food restaurants and packaged convenience foods full of chemicals and empty calories. Contrary to belief, a person can be obese and at the same time suffering from malnutrition. The body is always hungry because it’s craving nutrients. Poor people often eat foods that are cheap and on sale, such as Kraft macaroni and cheese, Ramen noodles, white bread, canned soups, Hamburger Helper etc. These foods fill the belly and put on weight while offering little in the way of nutrition. Fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables, are expensive in comparison. Often poor people don’t take the time to plan meals and cook because they are often working full time jobs at low pay. When they are tired they go to a fast food restaurant. When a person of means is tired from working they go to a full menu restaurant that offers better choices.

    Reply
  216. Tom2 months ago

    I do agree with Kristin but had a couple of other thoughts to add. I believe that the foods (fruits and vegetables) my parents and grandparents ate were superior in nutritional content and likely more satisfying to our needs than the same foods today. Consequently, we need more portions to make up for it. In addition, thanks to modern marketing, we have been hard-wired to desire junk foods which are cheap and easy and able to be eaten on the run (‘dollar menus’ for example). In addition, our foods are so laden with sugar that if the modern family sat down to a meal prepared from 1930s recipes, we’d be adding sweeteners to nearly all of it in order to make it tolerable. OK, a bit of a stretch, but there is no doubt that the amount of sugars in our foods is remarkably higher than 50-100 years ago, as well as our desire for it.

    Reply
  217. david2 months ago

    This is so incorrect and misleading it is unbelievable. Nobody will or should read Pew Research anymore. Are you that out of touch? Terrible article.

    Reply
    1. Blake MacBain2 months ago

      Roger that.

      Reply
  218. David Eldredge2 months ago

    “Remember the fat-free boom that swept the country in the 1990s? Yes, we know from the Salt readers who took our informal survey that lots of you tried to follow it. And gave up.

    ‘I definitely remember eating fat-free cookies, fat–free pudding, fat-free cheese, which was awful,” Elizabeth Stafford, an attorney from North Carolina, told us in the survey.’

    “Back then, she avoided all kinds of foods with fat: cheese, eggs, meat, even nuts and avocados. Most of the experts were recommending a low-fat diet to prevent heart disease.

    “And, as a result, her diet was full of sugar (lots of fat-free, sugary yogurt) and carbohydrates, like bagels.”

    From an NPR brodcast “Rethinking Fat: The Case For Adding Some Into Your Diet”

    Going fat free was a major contributor to our obesity. We needed more sugar to make up for the lost calories in the fat we stopped eating and to make the fat-free stuff taste better. Fat does not make us fat and our bodies have the ability to take care of the cholesterol much better than we used to think. We need to put the real fat foods back into our diet to off set the need for calories from carbs and high processed sugars.

    We will enjoy life more with the real good tasting whole dairy products and other natural high fat content foods.

    See Katie Couric’s film called “Fed UP” it makes this point very well. Google her and the film to find where it is playing and to also read up on the issue.

    Reply
    1. Anh2 months ago

      Agreed! Too much sugar to replace fat. Now we are fat and diabetics.

      Reply
  219. Sally2 months ago

    Why do we want to control and punish the choice of some if some choose to eat unhealthy? Just like marijuana choice; we should have food choice. This is a person that wants power to control people with food prices. Just like the ACA. Such propaganda and bad article. Food prices are too high due to regulations put on by our government. There are many people healthy. I am so sick of reading these bad articles where they want to control something else….and that’s freedom on Memorial Day in America.

    Reply
  220. Patty2 months ago

    “Americans have the cheapest food in history, and that unprecedented abundance is largely responsible for why we’re so fat.” This sentence is what’s wrong with this article. Aside from the sensational headline.

    Americans, anyone for that matter, are obese for one of two reasons: they don’t control themselves when it comes to food or in minimal cases they have a disorder (hypothyroid, etc). It has nothing to do with the fact that food is more readily available.

    Have you ever lived in a food desert? Probably not.

    Reply
  221. J.P. Brown2 months ago

    The problem isn’t that “food” is too cheap. The problem is that good quality food is too expensive. The fact is, a 1.75 carton of pulpy orange juice usually costs at least twice as much as a 2 L bottle of soda. Fruits and vegetables are still fairly competitive, but are subject to seasons. Also, the further north you go, the more limited your options become.

    As to pricing, producer policies and consumer demand aren’t entirely to blame. In Canada, there is a quota on the number of available dairy licenses. That means that if even if you have a process that improves production, reduces cost, and is better for the environment and animal welfare, if there are no free licenses, you’re out of luck. This practice has led to us having some of the highest milk prices in the developed world, despite the abundance of resources. Bread is even worse. I’ve seen single loaves go for more than $3.00, which in a wheat exporting nation, is just ridiculous, and many people feel that the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board (which was forcibly ended by the government in Aug 2012) is largely to blame.

    If nutritionists are serious about getting people to eat better, than they need to start advocating for policies that meet the consumer halfway.

    Reply
  222. Beth2 months ago

    Tick-tock goes the inflation clock and the propaganda spin. Gee Pew Research, why are you comparing today’s income expenditure for food to those of the depression era 1930′s?
    Trying to soften the blow of runaway food inflation couched in claims of obesity?

    Reply
  223. Canadian2 months ago

    I live in Canada and everybody I met who had visited USA complain that food is too expensive in Canada as compared to USA. But, I rarely find obese people in Canada (even though there is public health system in place) and if you go to Toronto downtown just to observe people you would find majority to be in very good shape, in really good shape. I link the food prices and higher taxes in Canada to be attributed to good health. These are my two cents.

    Reply
  224. Fabiana Garibotti2 months ago

    This artlicle / “research” does not make any sense. The $1 usd McDonnalds Big MC yes, is too cheap but that is trash (not food), real good food is not “cheap”. So please dont mix trash food, GMOs, products called “food” but made with lots of artificial ingredients with real nutricious food. The good food is not cheap.

    Reply
  225. Pierre Lamontagne2 months ago

    Food is cheaper because it’s heavily subsidized and in the wrong areas. To be more specific, it’s not broccoli and carrots that are heavily subsidized but everything that’s around the fast food/process food industry. Make fast food/process food more expensive (stop subsidized it) and you will see a change in people behavior.

    Reply
  226. Amy L2 months ago

    Interesting article; thank you! Your graph labels are a bit confusing, though. I could understand the chart better if the Y-axis were labeled something like “Percent of disposable income spent on food” and the red line were labeled “Total of at-home and away-from-home expenditures” (if that is indeed what it is!) Right now, the y-axis and red line are labeled the same, which doesn’t make sense.

    Reply
  227. Levi2 months ago

    This is about as misanthropic as it gets. Lower food prices due to abundance is always good.

    Reply
  228. Julie2 months ago

    I do not disagree with your point at all but disposable income has increased a lot since the seventies. It seems another benchmark – food relative to other costs – might be considered.

    Reply
  229. will2 months ago

    I guess you havent shopped lately…..price of beef has risen about 20% within last year, chicken about 13%.

    You also probably think the economy is dong well.

    Reply
  230. WL watts2 months ago

    I think the premise of this article is skewed. I think that cheap low quality pre prepared and processed food is cheaper and more available than in the past. I believe that high quality home cooked from raw ingredients meals occur less. I also think bulk whole foods that have to be prepared Oz for Oz are more expensive than fast foods or processed foods. The main added ingredients to processed foods ( sugars and fats) are probably the bigger reason for American obesity issues. If the processed food industry eliminated those two additives two things would occur. The food would be less calorie dense, and people would eat less of it because it would not taste as good.

    Reply
  231. Chris2 months ago

    Ask anybody with a sub-seven figure salary and they can tell you that essentials like food, fast or store bought, are neither too cheap nor too overtly plentiful. Who hasn’t noticed that as food prices have increased, package sizes have decreased? Certainly in Canada this is the case.
    People are choosing convenience foods that may not be great for them because our lifestyles seldom allow otherwise.
    When I am rich and retired I will be able to afford the time to always buy and eat healthy. In the meantime I will continue to try and pick the less evil of the quick options and not allow some pompous arses to ride my backside about it.

    Reply
  232. Mark2 months ago

    When you buy that $8/lb steak a farmer only receives $1.37/lb When you buy a $3/lb pork chop a farmer only receives $0.37/lb. Now go help a farmer for a day and then tell me if you still think food costs are high.

    Reply
  233. Colin Griffin2 months ago

    A great example of data manipulation.
    The “poorest 20%” of Americans, a slice by income, counts approximately 60%, or more, of Americans according to this article: www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/po…, or this video: upworthy.com/9-out-of-10-america…, which was supported by this Washington Post article: washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblo…

    Americans in the 1930′s ate meat, potatoes and vegetables. They did not eat plastified polymerized hydrogenated petroleum or highly processed corn and corn by-products. the “calories” they consumed were food products. From a farm. Not from a science experiment.
    It is true that most Americans are exercising more, unless you believe the raft of articles claiming they do not, and yes they probably ate more fresh vegetables than they did in 1970, but not more than they did in 1930.
    It’s not that they need to exercise more and eat more vegetables, they need to stop consuming the cheaply produced, highly marketed sugar, fat and salt that passes for “food” in America.
    Instead of reading and regurgitating this article, try reading a book. Preferably by Marion Nestle or Michael Pollan.

    Reply
  234. Bob Garner2 months ago

    Fallacious reasoning. Certainly food is cheaper per calorie and it should continue to get cheaper. Why would we want to deprive anybody of decent food? You’ll notice they do not consider dietary issues at all and do not consider education or availability.

    Realistically, good quality calories have not become cheaper. High fat, high glycemic, high salt low, nutrition foods are cheaper. But whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables are still far more expensive. What we really need to do is address the issue of food quality and our understanding of it. Simply charging more for food, presumably through taxation, would have the effect of lowering the quality of the diet of the poorest while further enriching a government that already taxes too highly for the good of the economic engine

    Reply
  235. Doug2 months ago

    This is stupidity of the highest order. The cost of food is increasing as inflation sets in on our economy like fog in San Franciso Bay. This guy sounds like a shill for the current administration.

    Reply
  236. Amy2 months ago

    This chart is very interesting, but confusing. I’m not sure what food at home versus away from home means. Usually food in restaurants is more expensive, so is that food away from home? Or does away from home mean in other countries?

    Reply
    1. Che2 months ago

      The hidden component in these “charts” is labor cost…Restaurant food is too cheap because labor costs are depressed.

      Reply
  237. Becky2 months ago

    This graph appears to only consider what Americans spend on groceries, not on total food. My family spends about 12.5% of our income on groceries. Add another $60 per month for school lunches, maybe $100 per month for lunches out for mom and dad, plus eating out at least twice a week (estimate $60-80 per week). That’s an additional 10% on food, bring the total spent on food to about 22-23%. If you consider families who eat fast food every night at say, $25-40 per night, the total spent on food is even higher.

    The epidemic here is an avoidance of simple chores like cooking and doing dishes. Many Americans spend much more on food than necessary so they can buy hot, ready-to-eat food whenever they want it, and throw away the “dishes” with nothing to wash afterward.

    I am convinced this graph is simply not representative of total costs Americans spend on food.

    Reply
  238. Robert C. Carroll2 months ago

    “Is food too cheap?” Absolutely not. So what is the cause of true obesity? It’s a number
    of things. First, households that must have each partner working full (or more) jobs and
    do not have time to cook at home. Second, the government regulations on the food
    industry is almost non-existent. School cafeterias do not supply good diets. Fast food
    outlets are now having “supersize” plates that was never available until a few years ago.

    So don’t blame the price of food. The public needs help, but not with increasing food
    prices. It sounds like your are a lobbyist for the food industry.

    Reply
  239. Stanley2 months ago

    No. Food is not too cheap.

    Reply
  240. Mark2 months ago

    If this were all true, then why is obesity more prevalent in lower-income communities?

    Reply
  241. steve2 months ago

    Interesting notes. Im curious to see the correlation between the changing us demographic and Marketing & packaging trends during that same time period.

    Reply
  242. Henning2 months ago

    Good article, it would benefit by exploring differentiation in food quality. I can buy GMO food or organic food. I can buy fast food sourced by Sysco or something cooked from scratch. Cost, sometimes is an indicator of quality. So, yes we have plenty of cheap food, yet its quality may be dubious and the chemical doctoring that makes it taste so very good may be be linked to over consumption and weight gain. Not unlike cigarette tobacco sprayed with extra nicotine the addition of corn syrup and flavor enhancers creates adiction. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyle also does not help the issue.

    Reply
  243. bw2 months ago

    No.

    Food has not become too cheap. Unhealthy fatty filler (wouldn’t call it food) has become too cheap and abundant, alongside with people’s health awareness becoming extremely poor.

    “Calories” is not what people should worry about, it’s the quality of their food and the amount of exercise. 2000 cal of McD and 15 slow paced min on a treadmill (regular exercise?) a day will leave you fatter and unhealthier than 2500 cal of fresh nutritious meats and bio fruits/vegetables and 30 min of cross-fit killer workout instead.

    Long story short, quality of food and exercise has become neglected and the lazy way out has become too cheap for our own good.

    Reply
  244. Steven@Maislin.com2 months ago

    Do you have an updated chart?

    Reply
  245. Corey T.2 months ago

    What an awful way to end the article. “Probably not.” And no justification. The article only takes into account caloric intake and not nutrients. Anyone that incorporates more fresh produce into their diet will ultimately consume more nutrients, leading to better health, and in all likelihood it will be fewer calories than a diet made of the cheap processed foods which have so greatly reduced the average Americans food expense. A poll of this nature could not possibly draw the conclusions it has regarding the impact of a diet higher in fresh produce. Please explain your objective of that comment.

    Reply
  246. Dwight2 months ago

    The obesity problem will not be solved by implementing higher priced food or even cheaper gym memberships. It is the sedentary workplace, home life, fenced in school playgrounds, computer focused lifestyle, air conditioning, and countless other influences that were not nearly as prevalent in 1976, etc.

    I remember as a child walking a mile or more to school every day. And I am not exaggerating that. I worked hard manual labor jobs in the summer. We got out during lunch hour and recess and we were able to go wherever we wanted. Compare that to today.

    I would also guess that the average calorie count per person increase is heavily weighted to the 34% considered obese with the remaining 66% are likely more stable. Those 17% (increase) were probably more likely to have a more physical lifestyle in 1976, etc.

    The loss of manufacturing jobs and subsequent move to desk potato type of jobs is a a major contributor.

    We need to stop looking at penalizing people and rewarding government coffers (that’s the only way to enforce this kind of policy) every time we see a problem. The problem is societal, not the simplistic price of food.

    Reply
  247. Brenna chapman2 months ago

    I don’t know where you’re getting information that cost of food is going down! Price of food is steadily going up, and portions are going down. Remember the “5 dollar foot long” that was actually 9inches ? Look at the size of candy bars– ” giant size” is what normal size used to be. I used to buy a gallon of milk or a 2 liter of coke for under $2, now I have to look around stores to find it under $4. Bread used to be under a dollar a loaf, and steak was affordable. I can’t afford beef now, except ground chuck or basic hamburger and chicken is even getting out of reach. Where do you shop that prices are going down? Stop misleading the public!

    Reply
  248. Jesse Richardson2 months ago

    So what’s the solution, make food more expensive?

    Reply
  249. E.M.2 months ago

    What people need to do is figure out what their food allergies are. According to this article,
    I’m not the typical American. I have a Wheatless, sugarless, alcohol free diet that relies heavily on lean meats, complex carbs, and fresh ingredients. Thusly, a good portion of my “disposable” income goes to food. I wouldn’t have it any other way… Health is worth an investment in lifestyle choices.

    I also think that a big societal hindrance, as far as food is concerned, is a lot of people just don’t know how to cook. If we taught people how to cook again, you wouldn’t be relying on Big Macs to keep you satisfied.

    This chart leaves out some very important variables when looking at cost of food vs. weight of the average American.

    Reply
  250. scott2 months ago

    The calories may well be higher. I believe a big contributor is the onset of the low fat diet craze which started right around the end of the 76 to 80 study. We replaced fat with sugar! Go figure the diabetes epidemic.

    Reply
  251. Sean Peake2 months ago

    Confirmation bias. Garbage in. Garbage out.

    Reply
  252. Carol2 months ago

    The question is what is in the food. The volume of sugar consumed in the US has exploded. The war on fat with all the low fat products has been the wrong one. People should rather go back to basic and look a bit more at the labels.

    Reply
  253. Øyvind2 months ago

    It’s a bit of an oversimplification though. The price of food and obesity are certainly correlated; but people in the countries competing with the US for the highest BMI use far mor of their income of food. Mexico ~25% and Egypt ~45%.

    Reply
  254. Behrouz S.2 months ago

    Food has been cheaper but unfortunately other side of all “cheap” food is that fruit taste and vegetable taste nothing today, tomato lock like a tomato but taste nothing, this plastic tomato or fruits is CHEAP. where have we a word about food with poor in minerals and vitamins!!?
    I am sorry for this “development !!”. If you want find a fruit and vegetable which taste as they should, it is a luxury and cost much more than your chart show.
    And also we have an environment which we have destroyed during years with chemical and …. So our children will pay back the real price of this cheap food.

    Reply
  255. Marisales2 months ago

    I think that the epidemic of obesity is a combination of both. The price and accessibility of reasonably priced food, including frozen and fast foods, but also what Kristin calls gluttony are all culprits. Gluttony is indeed a very useful mechanism of our body to survive times of famine. It is our genetic propensity to eat as much as possible when food is available and store as much fat as possible for leaner times. The problem is that in the rich societies of this time, there are no leaner times. We also do not have to physically work for our food, a trip (by car) to the supermarket is enough. Evolution did not prepare us for this.

    Reply
  256. Eben2 months ago

    It may be that your central conclusions are correct, but the data that you present here do not support your argument.

    You could just as easily say that food inflation since 1970 has been slower than wage inflation, which is true, and which would produce the same results–and also explain why food you buy to cook at home has gone down in relative value than food bought in restaurants. Another way of saying this is that we are getting richer, and even if we are eating a little more, there is only so much you can eat, whereas our wealth has grown substantially faster.

    You could also say that food production costs have come down in real terms because of the relentless drive for increased efficiency and our shift to industrial agriculture in the food supply. This would also produce the same effect.

    It is not that food is abundant that is causing us to get fat…it is that we are eating more fatty and unhealthy foods. The nutritional value of foods that are industrially produced and shipped great distances is severely diminished compared to locally produced and sourced, and homemade foods. This means a greater proportion of empty calories.

    In short, you have drawn the wrong conclusions from your research.

    Reply
  257. Arjan (Dutch)2 months ago

    The price we pay in the stores for our food is maybe all times low. But how about the real cost of food if we for example take into account health, environmental and social economical aspects? Who is paying those bills? Do we still value (good) food and the way it is produced?

    Reply
  258. Stanley2 months ago

    It’s not so much the calorie intake as the type of food that contains the calories, along with the vast amount of sugar loaded into the processed meals.
    Do yourself a favour and google around for High Fat Low Carb.

    You might be eating cheaper “food” but just quite “what” is that stuff you’re shovelling down your throat, and are the percentages and combinations all the healthy ?

    Reply
  259. Eirik Romstad2 months ago

    The last sentence:

    ” “[I]f people had access to more produce or cheaper produce, or just ate more of it, would they eat less candy and be thinner?” the researchers ask in conclusion. “Probably not.”

    is quite interesting as the data provided suggests there is a strong link between prices, money income and consumption in line with the microeconomic theory of consumer behavior as people eat more today than forty years ago. If policy makers had stood up to the food industry, they would long ago have introduced heavy sugar and fat taxes that would have made it relatively cheaper to heat healthy. Particular concerns relate to the sugar intake which gives immediate energy boosts and satiates people for a short time (before one needs a new energy boost). As such, sugar also contributes to overeating, obesity, and increased risks of diabetes.

    Reply
  260. Joyce2 months ago

    At this moment I am spending my holiday at the westcoast of America. Before that I spend two weeks at the west coast of Canada. I am from the Netherlands and I am really shocked how fat people are at this side of the continent…. Not only older people, also very young men and woman! In some cases I could see them having serious health problems (to walk and breath properly). Is the cheap food the cause of this problem? Maybe it is, though I think other factors have an bigger influence. For example. The biggest problem (in my opinion) is the diversity of food. There are so many fast food chains in every city that food is literally available at every corner of the street. No time to cook yourself? save yourself the hassle just stop by go through the drive in and your good to go. My conclusion: its become too easy to get “bad food”. And for good food (biological or fresh) you really have to search. The other problem is sugar….I have eaten in several places but in almost everything you eat they put sugar in it or the big food conglomerates have already put it In for you (and why would they do that? Easy, it’s addictive). Then then the portions. They are way to much to big for one person, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. For example if I would eat an American breakfast my total amount of calories (2000 Kcal for woman) could easily be reached. But I can’t live a whole day on a breakfast so I need to eat more (and by doing that I get over my maximum amount of calories a day). And that’s is where the other problem starts. To stay slim and healthy you have to train really hard to lose all those extra calories you get in. And therefore you need to train super hard at least a couple a times of week and more than one our a day. I don’t think people have time for that. So in my opinion it’s not only the cheap food (high welfare) that causes the problem. My opinion the big food chains are making big money over the back of Canadian an American people. They are making them addicts to their cheap food and the people have become lazy to cook themselves a proper meal. So the only one who can change all this are the people themselves. And I really wonder if people are happy with themselves if they have to carry almost an extra self every day. Stand up Canadians and Americans and stop eating so much (sugar). Ignore the big food chains that serve bad food. Try to eat fresh fruit and drinks and exercise frequently to stay slim and health. Cook yourself and family a proper meal. It’s not more expensive if you do it in a right way. You can do it! On my next trips I hope to see healthy Canadians and Americans! And for my own sake less “bad food” on my road trip through this amazing continent :-).

    Reply
  261. Kristin2 months ago

    “If people had access to more or cheaper produce, would they eat more of it?” Probably not- say the researchers. More than just “probably” but certainly. Remember the EBT card fiasco in Louisiana at the Wal-mart where the youtube video showed folks loading up their carts in a riot- the produce section was deserted. When I go grocery shopping on around the 1st of the month what I see in shopping carts is astounding. Not a sack of flour- no bunches of celery, I see lots of frozen dinners (aren’t they MORE costly even per lb than traditional foods..?) Also, the old tired refrain about “not having enough time to cook” is pure nonsense. You can put together a salad in a fraction of the time spent in McD’s drive through. How long can it possibly take to put chopped carrots in a pan?

    Produce is much less per lb than meats now- so what’s the problem? Researchers keep looking for reasons. I will tell you the reasons- it’s gluttony. Nothing more.

    Reply
    1. Pedro J. Moreno2 months ago

      More or less the same is happening in Spain. People is resourcing to industrial food more and more, but I think sooner or later they will realize than health will pass its bill to them.
      I myself and my family we try not to buy any industrially produced food, and we cook in our kitchen all our meals from non industrially processed foods (vegetables, meat, drinks, etc.). Mostly we resource to the traditional recipes and dishes as we have seem our fathers and grand fathers in the past.

      Reply
    2. Jacksan2 months ago

      Gluttony, for sure – but also ignorance (of the real science between nutrition, health and wellness) and sadly, laziness.

      I would argue that less expensive food may be a small contributory factor in the obesity epidemic in the US, but if food was more expensive, only the truly poor would suffer.

      Reply
    3. TL2 months ago

      Robert Lustig has a scientific explanation. Watch his long lecture “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” on YouTube, or read this short article in The Telegraph: telegraph.co.uk/health/dietandfi…

      Reply
    4. Paul2 months ago

      They have no skin in the game. It’s FREE to them. Take the easiest, quickest, least hassle. Ergo, the microwave meals, frozen entrees, quick snacks. They go first. SNAP cards should only apply to those items that must be prepared. Nothing more. Nothing less. Their portion, their work, would be to have to prepare the free food, not just zap it. Help still needs to be given, make it a hoop to jump through to get it.

      Reply
    5. Adam2 months ago

      Funny that you spend the bulk of your comment describing laziness (choosing frozen dinners over raw food one prepares at home, choosing a 10-15min trip to a fast food restaurant over 5-10min throwing together a quick meal), and then end by saying the reason is gluttony. If you’re looking for a “deadly sin” to attribute this to, you should go with sloth – you spent an entire paragraph describing it.

      Reply
    6. Nick2 months ago

      It’s called laziness too- you make people dependent on the government who can just barely get by then they continue to just barely get by..because they can. They’re told by the government they must receive that money/food to survive so that’s all they end up believing they can do. Sure, many need a little help every once in a while during life, but it’s when helping hurts it turns into a lifestyle of poor choices/dependence.

      Reply
    7. John Gaffigan2 months ago

      Excellent comments, Kristin, agree 100%! I must bring inflatable air mattresses next time…no more sleeping on ground for me…even that 1″ foam thingy doesn’t do it!n to the PACs, lobbyists and powerful food associations, don’t think for one second that we’ll see any near-term reforms!

      Reply
    8. Eric2 months ago

      So true. We have become a nation of loafers in many perspectives. “Convenience” has become the death of common sense and self-reliance. Cooking and good nutrition are becoming a forgotten family value.

      Reply
    9. John Gaffigan2 months ago

      Excellent comments, Kristin, agree 100%! The massive growth in calories correlates with a whole bevy of health issues…diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. today’s food is riddled with high fructose corn syrup, aspertamane and other toxic ingredients that are killing us. Congress is beholden to the PACs, lobbyists and powerful food associations, so don’t think for one second that we’ll see any near-term reforms!

      Reply
    10. Karin from Birmingham2 months ago

      I’m surprised at the statistic that food takes up a lower percentage of household income today than it did in the past, although I do not doubt the accuracy of the report. My perspective is likely skewed from having had parents and grandparents who grew almost everything we ate while I was growing up, aside from pantry staples. We were not well off, but ate abundantly plentiful home-grown vegetables, dairy, meats and game, even fruits. berries and nuts. As a result, my siblings and I abhor processed, fast, fake food. So, my experience is that food taste preferences are set early in life and may be hard to change in adulthood. Not impossible, but probably require more intervention than a “this is what you should eat” lecture.

      Reply
    11. Jake2 months ago

      Here’s the dilemma: it’s not dieticians and nutritionists who will save us..its behavioral psychologists – and only indirectly through social psychologists who can influence congress to condemn the media and food manufacturers to stop proselytizing unhealthy eating, consuming, and spending habits.

      Reply
      1. Nick2 months ago

        So that’s the issue. When will people be capable of being responsible for Their own actions?

        We need congress to regulate what people eat? Give me a break!!! That’s the problem congress regulates too much & people aren’t responsible for their actions, choices etc! So we need congress…blah blah.

        Reply
    12. Michael Cooper2 months ago

      I also think cheaper food results in lower pay for food service workers – which results in a downward spiral of living on less.

      Reply
    13. Dawn Sutherland Dort RHN,NNCP2 months ago

      All good points. I also believe that these trends are also responsible for people just simply not knowing how to prepare their own food. I get asked quite frequently by clients how to prepare certain foods such as cooked grains. With the so called convenience foods and take out we have lost much of our basic cooking skills. A sad commentary of our times.

      Reply
    14. Greg2 months ago

      Vegetables are cheaper per pound, not necessarily cheaper per calorie. So is water, trying living on that. Despite your mountains of anecdotal evidence, I’m not sure we can extrapolate the behaviour of an entire nation based on your experiences at the grocery store. Thanks for playing though.

      Reply
    15. Caroline2 months ago

      I agree, Kristin, that American’s are gluttonous. It is a “first-world problem” that we have many of these frozen, processed meals to meet the fast-paced lifestyles of families.

      One thing I want to contribute to this conversation is that even though less consumers are spending more on their food, the cost of food production has not decreased. The percentage that farmers receive back from producing food is a slim $.20-$.40 per $1 of the retail cost. Meat prices have risen of course because of some diseases in hogs, the awful winter hurt cattle herds in the west and the recent rains have affected grain prices for feed. I am a farmer’s daughter in northwest Ohio and to be honest, it is hard to stay motivated in agriculture sometimes. However, farmers like my family are continuing because we want to feed people and it is our livelihood.

      Being healthy is not necessarily eating less, but balancing your diet and exercise. Everything can be consumed in moderation, but hormones, heredity and your environment and career can play a role in your physique.

      Reply