Inflation Is Bad for Americans’ Health — How It’s Causing Poor Dietary Choices

Portrait Of Shocked Young Housewife Checking Grocery Bills In Kitchen After Food Shopping In Supermarket, Millennial Lady Frustrated About Expensive Prices For Organic Products, Free Space.
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Soaring consumer prices aren’t just bad for your bank account — they’re also having a negative impact on Americans’ health due to poor dietary choices, according to a new survey from consumer research platform Attest.

The survey of 2,000 U.S consumers, released on Tuesday, found that nearly half of Americans (46%) are eating food past their expiration and “use-by” dates in an attempt to stretch their dollars as inflation hits a 40-year high.

Four in 10 survey respondents overall said they are buying less food because of higher prices, and that percentage rises to 52% for those ages 55 to 64. As Attest noted, this could make a bad situation even worse because more than 38 million Americans are already suffering from food insecurity, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Consumers are also switching to cheaper foods that have inferior ingredients and fewer nutritional benefits, while more than one-fifth (22%) are buying fewer fresh fruits and vegetables — a trend that could lead to higher obesity rates.

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About the only healthy trend is that about half of respondents are cutting back on alcohol purchases to free up more money for food.

“The Attest research shows that consumers are understandably trying to save where they can in reaction to inflation, especially pulling back on premium food products and alcohol,” Attest CEO Jeremy King said in a press release. “However, fundamental food behaviors are also shifting due to such rapid price rises, including a relaxing of attitudes towards eating expired food products.”

Of those who are eating food past its expiration date, 17% said they only recently began doing so. Nearly four in 10 respondents (38%) said they even go as far as removing”bad bits” from food so it can still be eaten.

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The foods most likely to be eaten past expiration are potato chips/snacks (56% of respondents), followed by cereal (50%) and cookies/candy (48%). Nearly 40% said they would eat bread after it expired, but only 23% said they would consume milk past its expiration date. The foods least likely to be eaten after their expiration dates are yogurt (14%) and uncooked meat (17%). 

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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