A new study from the US Department of Agriculture debunks the widespread argument that fresh, wholesome foods are more expensive than processed, high-calorie items. The study was intended as a counterpoint to a 2010 University of Washington study which found that junk food is more cost-efficient calorie-for-calorie. However, the new research demonstrates that when measured by weight or portion size rather than caloric content, fruit, vegetables and grains are actually less expensive than meat and foods with high levels of salt, sugar, and saturated fat. USDA scientist and study author Andrea Carlson argues, “Using price per calorie doesn’t tell you how much food you’re going to get or how full you are going to feel.” Other nutrition advocates also point out the issue of “empty calories,” which contribute to obesity and offer no health benefits.
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