Starving Dietitian

50 Cents a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

It’s been a while since our last lesson, ready for part 3?

The more I think about this topic, the more I realize how applicable this type of “financial thinking” is to nutrition.

This week, let’s take a look at the more substantial side of the analogy.

If you remember back to the post Hyper Tense, you might recall a little statistic I spat out regarding the cost of buying healthful foods.

Think back, it wasn’t that long ago.

cost of healthy food

If that’s not a big enough hint for you, wipe that drool from your mouth and look away from the donut burger.

So $1.50 is all it takes to eat what most Dietitians consider a healthy diet. The cost of a soda, or your morning bagel, is all it takes.

Sure, $1.50 a day would add up. $45 a month, 547$ a year, $35,555 for your approximately 65 years of independently financed meals (assuming ~20 years of support from others).

You’re looking kinda pale over there, have a seat, take a deep breath. I’ve got some worse news for you.

According to a recent study conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield, obesity is expensive. Really, truly, immensely expensive.

The breakdown goes like this.

The average adult patient of healthy weight spends about $3722 on healthcare each year. No small sum, but that’s the BASELINE.

The average Overweight patient can expect to spend an extra $321 each year (keep in mind this is a 174 lb male at 5’10” or a 146 lb female at 5’4″)

We’re not done yet, oh no. Moderately Obese patients see a massive jump, spending $996 more than their health weight counterparts (210lb male at 5’10” or 175lb female at 5’4″)

Lastly, our Severely Obese Patients skyrocket to the top spending a whopping $3395 more than baseline. Granted this last measure includes the 500+ lb individuals you’ve seen on tv, but the figure is still astounding.

All of this is a lot to process, so I made a graph to show the difference between this $1.50 a day and relative cost of healthcare.

Total Cost of Healthcare StarvinRDSo in just 10 years, moderately obese individuals will pay an additional $4,500 over a healthy weight individual eating healthy food. That’s right, you’re paying twice as much to be less healthy. Let’s not get started on the Severely Obese, I think the graph speaks for itself.

Now, I do realize that eating healthy is in fact slightly more expensive in the long run than being moderately overweight by these metrics. Not surprising in fact given the debate surrounding whether a BMI of 25-29 is as bad as we’ve been told. However, at a difference of about $200 a year between the two, we’re talking  just 50 cents a day to keep the doctor away.

What would you spend for better quality of life? How about lower risk of cancer? Higher self-esteem? If your answer to any of these is 50 cents or higher, you’re that much closer to affording a better future.

Be good to each other.

– Joshua Iufer, RD



  1. Paloma

    I really liked this post, I’d really like to share it in Spanish with your permission, of course. Credits included obviously. Let me know if that would be ok with you…keep up the good work 🙂


      Definitely! Go right ahead, all I ask is that you link or email me the finished product. You might want to modify it slightly as well just to read simpler, I know the ending gets a little confusing.

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