On a recent trip to the grocery store, I was at the check out line and noticed that the person in front of me was buying several bags of not very healthy items. Her order came to under $40. My one bag of healthier foods, on the other hand, totaled around $50.

This got me thinking. Many people don’t eat healthy on a regular basis because they don’t believe they can afford to. And, while it is generally cheaper to eat junk foods than whole foods, what does unhealthy eating really cost us?

The Hidden Costs of Unhealthy Eating

Though unhealthier foods may be less expensive at the register, when you look at the whole picture, there are hidden costs to buying these foods that can’t be overlooked.

Short-Term Health – An unhealthy diet can lead to stress, fatigue, depression and other low-grade health complaints, making us less productive and unable to enjoy life in the present moment. These are some of the non-economic costs of eating poorly.

Long-Term Health – Eating heavily processed foods and foods with high amounts of sugar, sodium and fat can contribute to a variety of health issues and serious illnesses, both mental and physical.

Medical Expenses – When you eat unhealthy foods and develop health problems as a result, the costs of medical visits, prescription medications and other health services escalate. These increased medical expenses will quickly surpass any amount of money saved by buying cheaper, unhealthier foods.

Global Health Concerns – Poor diets largely contribute to the global obesity epidemic and food-related public health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This results in higher health insurance costs, not to mention less healthy, productive and happy societies.

Look Beyond the Price Tag

The total cost of unhealthy food certainly isn’t reflected in the price tag. Next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t just compare the immediate price of cheaper junk foods to more expensive organic foods. Look past what costs less now and remember the cumulative affects the hidden costs can have on your health, and pocketbook, over the course of your life.

When you look at the cost of buying junk food from a health perspective, no one can really afford not to maintain a healthy diet. The saying that prevention is better than cure couldn’t be truer. You can’t put a price tag on good health.

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