According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, recent studies have shown that the most reliable predictor of health habits is socioeconomic status. Those with lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be overweight, suffer from malnutrition, or get behind on health screenings and check-ups. Those in the upper-class even seem to have healthier habits than the typical middle class families.
The Cost of Healthy Food
Maintaining a nutritious diet comes at two costs – not just the money you hand over to a cashier, but the time it takes to prepare. The healthiest way to eat is to use whole foods, which often means cooking and preparing meals from scratch. Processed or prepackaged foods, typically found in the center aisles of the grocery store, are usually filled with salt, preservatives, sugars, oils, or ingredients you can't pronounce. For those working long hours for their paychecks, finding the time to prepare a nutritious meal may seem unreasonable.
Paying for fresh produce instead of cheaper canned vegetables can also steal a chunk from your grocery budget, especially in the winter months when you're shopping out of season. If you're looking to purchase healthier organic foods, expect another boost to your total. Many families with a lower socioeconomic status rely on coupons to keep them within their budgets, but most of these deals are for processed foods. Even when healthy foods are on sale, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meats are difficult to stockpile until the next sale hits.
Without affordable and comprehensive health insurance options, many in middle and lower classes find themselves underinsured, or not insured at all. Without good coverage, many adults will justify skipping recommended check-ups and screenings in order to save money, or even putting off doctor visits when they know there is a problem. Preventative medicine, quick medical interventions, and regular advice from a doctor can save money and lives down the road, but in the short-term many lower and middle class patients will only take what they think they can afford today.