Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Calories from Junk Food Are Cheap

The hot health news item today was as study done by Dr. Mark J. Pletcher, from UCSF in today's JAMA which showed that white patients are more likely to get strong pain medications in emergency rooms than African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. We must work on eliminating racial disparities in health care. It is shocking that they exist today.

A less popular, but also very important study cited by MSNBC today comes from the University of Washington and published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association which looked at grocery stores in Seattle and found that while the price of fruits and vegetables is climbing faster than inflation, the price of junk food is actually going down.

"Whereas the price of the lowest-calorie fruits and vegetables was more than $18.16 per 1,000 calories, the most calorie-rich foods cost $1.76 per 1,000 calories."

It should not be a surprise that we have such a horrible obesity epidemic when you can get more for your money by eating junk food. The two studies are actually related since minorities comprise a disproportionate amount of the socioeconomically disadvantaged, and obesity leads to multiple health problems. Perhaps (in addition to educational programs) if we subsidized healthy foods and taxed unhealthy foods, we could start to get a grip on our nation's obesity problem?

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