The Hidden Cost of Cheap Food

How the Your Tax Dollars Subsidize Bad Health…

We live in a land of plenty where everyone has easy access to low-cost foods.

This sounds like some sort of Shangri-la at first glance, doesn’t it? But when you dig deeper, some disturbing facts emerge.

When Cheap is Expensive

Among all income levels, the greatest levels of obesity occur in the poorest people.

Although these folks may know less about healthy eating than those with more income & education, the primary reason for this epidemic of obesity is easy access to cheap, low-quality food. This means inexpensive refined foods made with sugar, wheat, rice, corn & soybeans.

Refined sugar & grains as well as un-fermented soy products are the worst foods for health and the biggest cause of weight gain in the modern world.

But here’s the kicker: The reason these junk foods are so inexpensive is because the U.S. Department of Agriculture spends over $15,000,000,000 (that’s billion with a ‘B’) a year subsidizing the very crops that go into them.

These subsidies make possible the fact that health-damaging refined flour, white sugar and corn syrup are by far the least expensive ingredients a food manufacturer can use. In other words, our tax dollars are helping make these junk foods cheap. It also means such food policies directly support people being obese.

An Even Bigger Irony

All of this would be enough cause for concern. After obesity-related diseases are the number one health problem in the country. Obesity is directly related to increased rates of:

  • Type II diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Cataracts
  • Infections, colds & flu
  • At least 15 forms of cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Learning disabilities
  • Depression
  • Asthma
  • Impotence
  • Gynecological diseases

In fact, diseases associated with obesity cost $147 billion dollars a year in the U.S. And in the poorest population, the government pays for the lion’s share of these treatments through subsidized medical care.

Can you see the contradiction? Here are the steps:

  1. Our tax dollars subsidize farmers for growing crops that provide abundant and cheap junk food.
  2. This type of food is a direct cause of obesity and related health issues.
  3. Our tax dollars subsidize health care to take care of these health problems.

Of course all of this happens in the background behind the frequent public admonitions to lose weight.

Please understand that I don’t believe this is some evil master plan by bureaucrats. Rather, I think it’s an unfortunate consequence of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, or more accurately, not knowing the consequences.

Your Action Plan

The first step in neutralizing the lure of cheap, unhealthy food has to do with mindset. In a nutshell, cheap food now is going to lead to expensive medical bills later. Whole, fresh, natural (ideally organic) food is going to lead to improved health, energy level and quality of life.

But don’t take my word for it. If you are eating whole, natural food now, you already know the value of it. If you aren’t, do a little experiment with yourself by setting aside a two-week period where everything you eat is whole, fresh and natural. Your body will let you know what’s real…


McKay, Betsy, “Costs of Treating Obesity Soar”, Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2009.

Hubert, H. B. Obesity as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease: a 26-year follow-up of participants in the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation. 67(5):968-977, 1983.

Bray, G. A. The underlying basis for obesity: relationship to cancer. Journal of Nutrition. 132(11 Supplement):3451S-3455S, 2002.

Andersen-Parrado, P. 5 reasons to lose weight in 99. Better Nutrition. 61(1):34, 1999.

Gustafson, D., et al. An 18-year follow-up of overweight and risk of Alzheimer Disease. Arch Intern Med. 163(13):1524-1528, 2003.

Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.

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