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The cost of US foods as related to their nutritive value

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I was just going to check out nutrition density with relation to cost per lound - and son of a gun - they did it - only a few months ago! -Ken

$ Grains

$ Sugars

$$$ Vegetables

$$$$$ Fruit

CONCLUSION: Grains and sugars food groups were cheaper than vegetables and fruit per calorie and were cheaper than fruit per serving. These price differentials may help to explain why low-cost, energy-dense foods that are nutrient poor are associated with lower education and incomes.

The cost of US foods as related to their nutritive value1,2,3

Adam Drewnowski

Background: Comparisons of the cost of different foods relative to their energy and nutritive value were conducted in the 1800s by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Objective: The objective was to reestablish the relations between food cost, energy, and nutrients by using contemporary nutrient composition and food prices data from the USDA.

Design: The USDA Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies 1.0 (FNDDS 1.0) and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion food prices database were used for analysis. For 1387 foods, key variables were as follows: energy density (kcal/g), serving size (g), unit price ($/100 g), serving price ($/serving), and energy cost ($/kcal). A regression model tested associations between nutrients and unit price ($/100 g). Comparisons between food groups were tested by using one-factor analyses of variance. Relations between energy density and price within food groups were tested by using Spearman's correlations.

Results: Grains and fats food groups supplied the lowest-cost dietary energy. The energy cost for vegetables was higher than that for any other food group except for fruit. Serving sizes increased with water content and varied inversely with energy density of foods. The highest prices per serving were for meats, poultry, and fish, and the lowest prices per serving were for the fats category. Although carbohydrates, sugar, and fat were associated with lower price per 100 g, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals were associated with higher price per 100 g, after adjustment for energy.

Conclusions: Grains and sugars food groups were cheaper than vegetables and fruit per calorie and were cheaper than fruit per serving. These price differentials may help to explain why low-cost, energy-dense foods that are nutrient poor are associated with lower education and incomes.

Am J Clin Nutr 92: 1181-1188, 2010. First published August 18, 2010; doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29300 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29300 Vol. 92, No. 5, 1181-1188, November 2010

1 From the Center for Public Health Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

2 Supported by USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service grant 2004-35215-14441 on obesity and poverty and by NIH grants R01 DK 076608 and R21 DK085406 on food environment, diet quality, and disparities in obesity.

3 Address correspondence to A Drewnowski, 305 Raitt Hall #353410, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3410. E-mail: adamdrew@u.washington.edu.

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-- The cost of US foods as related to their nutritive value -- Drewnowski 92 (5): 1181 -- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
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Udut, Kenneth
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from Golden Gate Estates, Naples, FL
Associate, 3508 posts
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on Nov. 12 2010


I was in sweetbay today thinking about this. I noticed that an awful lot of foods are about $1.99 minimum (even meats) and very very few things were cheaper than $2.00 - whether fruits, vegs, meat or grains... with the exception of ENRICHED WHITE (bleached) grains, which were always much cheaper than anything else per pound in the store.

That is part of the reason why people with less money eat more poorly. The study hadn't been done since the 1800's - which blows my mind -- the thing missing from it, it seems, was the cost of meat per pound, but any trip in the supermarkets will tell you that its hard to find meats under $2.00 a pound, except for sales. -Ken, Naples, FL

P.S. the cheapest cheapest "instant food" per pound was - get this - GRITS. Grits are bleached white corn. 59 cents per pound - 75% cheaper. So if you need to fill a belly on the ultra-cheap, grits will do it. I'd add a little ground flaxseed to it or maybe some quick oatmeal to it to increase the health value, and the tiny adition of that wouldn't increase the cost per pound much. Grits may be the solution to end world hunger - so long as it gets added Fiber, Protein and Vitamins, all of which its missing.
Udut, Kenneth
avatar
from Golden Gate Estates, Naples, FL
Associate, 3508 posts
Reply ·  Quote ·  Edit ·  Delete

on Nov. 12 2010


OKAY: I took a look at the commodies market, to see what the costs of the various grains/meats are going for. It backs up some of what that study said. Corn tortillas are a lot cheaper than wheat tortillas - you can see the different reflected right in the raw materials. (I converted bushels to lbs - 56 lbs/bushel for corn, 60 lbs/bushel for wheat)

CORN: 9 CENTS /LB

WHEAT: 12 CENTS /LB

SUGAR: 26 CENTS /LB

LEAN HOGS: 75 CENTS /LB

LIVE CATTLES: 102 CENTS /LB

PORK BELLIES: 105 CENTS /LB

COFFEE: 201 CENTS /LB
The cost of US foods as related to their nutritive value I was just going to check out nutrition density with relation to cost per lound - and son of a gun - they did it - only a few months ago! -Ken

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