Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Department of the Obvious

According to a recent study:

Using retail prices at major supermarket chains in Seattle, researchers at the University of Washington found that low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods -- mainly fruits and vegetables -- were far more expensive, calorie for calorie, than sweets and snack foods.


They found that snack foods, sweets and fatty foods offered the most bang for a shopper's buck. 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.

In related news, it turned out that low-nutrient, calorie-rich foods -- mainly sweets and snack foods -- were far more expensive, nutrient for nutrient, than fruits and vegetables.

The following, however, is a non-sequitur:

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, highlight a key obstacle to healthy eating. And they may help explain why obesity rates are highest among the poorest Americans, according to the researchers.

"Whereas (calorie)-dense foods remain the most affordable option, the price of the recommended healthful foods of lower (calorie) density has disproportionately increased," write Drs. Pablo Monsivais and Adam Drewnowski.

The fact that calorie-rich foods are cheaper per calorie will influence behavior only if you assume that the consumers are buying a given number of calories and trying to spend as little as possible. It might explain vitamin deficiencies but it cannot explain a calorie surplus by itself.


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