Unhealthy Food is Cheap

One dollar’s worth of Coke has 447 calories, while $1 of iceberg lettuce has just 16.5. To look at it another way, you would have to spend about $5 to buy 2,000 calories at McDonald’s, $19 to buy 2,000 calories worth of canned tuna and $60 to buy 2,000 calories worth of lettuce.

View this graphic from Lampham’s Quarterly to see how much $1 will buy you in various foods (via David Leonhardt).

Comments (6)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    I did a calculation awhile back on how much it would cost to survive on a 2000 to 2500 calorie per day diet by eating staple foods. It is rediculously low if eating rice and beans — something less than $1 per day.

  2. Eric says:

    Cheap in the short term, sure. But what about the long-term costs of obesity and poor health associated with an unhealthy diet? Certainly economists know that people tend to underestimate long-term costs.

  3. Kennedy says:

    It’s interesting that the graphic only lists calories. I would like to see a more complete set of data that includes the amount of protein, carbs, etc. that you get for $1 of various foods.

  4. Brian Williams. says:

    I can’t imagine what 2,000 calories worth of lettuce would look like.

  5. Virginia says:

    When I look at the health problems our country faces, I think about how getting rid of farm subsidies would be one of the best ways to create change.

    That being said, Devon is right. You can get a boatload of low-cholesterol, high nutrient calories by eating beans and rice. Plus, there has never been an easier food to prepare than beans and rice.

  6. Linda Gorman says:

    I fail to understand why the products sold by Coke and McDonald’s are considered unhealthy. They do not contain pathogens. The evidence that they harm people is, to put it mildly, weak. Sure they are calorie dense, but what is wrong with that?