Archive for the tag - price

The Thousand Dollar Menu: Why Fast Food Isn’t Really Cheap.

Though it’s possible to shop for and consume healthy foods on a budget, it’s certainly something of a challenge. When I purchase nourishing ingredients and make my own meals, for example, the price tag is generally much higher than if I had stopped at McDonald’s for a Big Mac. Or some crispy strips at KFC. Or some Chinese food take-out.

Fast food is cheap. And when faced with budgetary constraints, it might seem like a financially sound option for individuals and families alike. But not so fast. It turns out that fast food has a secret hidden cost that can total thousands of dollars per individual per year.

The problem is that there is a clear link between fast food and obesity. Multiple studies have been done on the subject, including one from the University of Michigan that concluded:

Participants who consumed fast food two or more times a week gained approximately 10 more pounds and had twice as great increase in insulin resistance in the 15-year period than participants who consumed fast food less than once per week.

There is a clear and strong link between fast food and obesity. In a separate 2009 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the authors found that even the proximity to a fast food restaurant “significantly increased the risk of obesity.”

Since eating fast food contributes in a very real way to obesity, the financial impact of the extra weight must be taken into account. Researchers at George Washington University used a series of measures including indirect costs, lost productivity, and direct costs, such as obesity-related medical expenditures, to estimate the price tag of obesity for men and women. The results were shocking:

The authors concluded that the individual cost of being obese is $4,879 and $2,646 for women and men respectively, and adding the value of lost life to these annual costs produces even more dramatic results: $8,365 and $6,518 annually for women and men, respectively.

If eating fast food contributes to obesity (we know it does), then maybe the dollar menu isn’t so cheap after all. Fast food prices don’t reflect the secret hidden cost that you’ll undoubtedly pay through the impact on your health.