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Are Healthy Diets Cost-Effective & Sustainable? It’s Complicated

The truth of healthy eating is that it might not always be accessible, even in “upper-middle-income to high-income countries” like the United States. Here, food insecurity is a major issue, especially in the sense of access to fresh, healthy food options. According to the USDA, millions of people in the U.S., particularly BIPOC communities, lack access to healthy options in their area. But as this study demonstrates, food security isn’t just a problem in the U.S..

The researchers on this study did work to find options for improving accessibility. The big lever, according to the team, is a combination of broader economic development in those areas, combined with more effective means for reducing food waste, and more “health-friendly” pricing of food.

“Affording to eat a healthy and sustainable diet is possible everywhere, but requires political will,” explained lead researcher Marco Springmann, Ph.D. “Current low-income diets tend to contain large amounts of starchy foods and not enough of the foods we know are healthy. And the western-style diets, often seen as aspirational, are not only unhealthy, but also vastly unsustainable and unaffordable in low-income countries.”

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