Food Facts is keeping a close eye out news that can help our community and the people they reach in their communities understand more about and combat the growing obesity problem in our country. Today we came across a fascinating new study that we wanted to make sure we shared with you.
A study conducted by Planet Money/National Public Radio outlines how Americans are spending money on the foods they eat. It uncovered that the country is spending more of their food budgets on sweets and processed foods than they were 30 years ago, in 1982. And while spending more on those items, we are spending the same percentage on fruits and vegetables. The scale is tipping, but in the wrong direction.
On average consumers spend 14.6% of their grocery money on fruits and vegetables. In 1982, that figure was 14.5%. Back in 1982, the grocery budget allowance for sweets and processed foods was 11.6% — considerably less than the amount allocated for fruits and vegetables. Today, in 2012, that figure has risen a whopping 11.6% to 22.9%! That’s a fairly dramatic increase.
There were other changes reflected in American spending habits as well. Meats, for instance, dropped by almost 10% of expenditures. Dairy product expenditures dropped to 11.1% from 13.3%. And spending on grains and baked goods increased from 13.2% to 14.4%.
So it appears that the data which was compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects increases in spending on foods that aren’t nutritionally important for us and decreases in foods that are actually good for us.
There are reasons to believe that cost plays a part in these statistical changes. There are some fruits and vegetables that are less expensive now than they were in 1982 (costs adjusted for inflation) and others that are markedly higher. But in today’s economic climate and consumers trying to do whatever they can to stretch their dollars and make them go further, the perception may, in fact, be different than the reality. It does appear that people look at processed foods as a less expensive alternative to fresh and are moved by their budgets as opposed to nutritional quality. The concept of convenience also rears its head here, as it’s acknowledged that the idea of packaged products is still very appealing in our busy day and age.
While finances are a concern for all Americans right now, Food Facts wonders if we’re not sacrificing our health in an effort to tighten our belts. And sadly, if we’re tightening our belts with our food budgets, maybe that’s making more of us need to loosen our belts – literally.