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Study: Healthy eating means spending more at store

  • FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2009 file photo, a vendor hands over a sample of produce to a potential customer at the historic Pike Place Market in Seattle. A healthy diet is expensive and could make it difficult for Americans to meet new U.S. nutritional guidelines, according to a study published Thursday, Aug. 3, 2011 that says the government should do more to help consumers eat healthier. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

SEATTLE — A healthy diet is expensive and could make it difficult for Americans to meet new U.S. nutritional guidelines, according to a study published Thursday that says the government should do more to help consumers eat healthier.

An update of what used to be known as a food pyramid in 2010 had called on Americans to eat more foods containing potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D and calcium. But if they did that, the study authors said, they would add hundreds more dollars to their annual grocery bill.

Inexpensive ways to add these nutrients to a person's diet include potatoes and beans for potassium and dietary fiber. But the study found introducing more potassium in a diet is likely to add $380 per year to the average consumer's food costs, said lead researcher Pablo Monsivais, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and the School of Public Health at the University of Washington.

"We know more than ever about the science of nutrition, and yet we have not yet been able to move the needle on healthful eating," he said. The government should provide help for meeting the nutritional guidelines in an affordable way.

He criticized some of the marketing for a healthy diet — for example, the image of a plate of salmon, leafy greens and maybe some rice pilaf — and said a meal like that is not affordable for many Americans.


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