You might imagine that high food prices could put the nation on a diet as people, strapped for cash, tighten their belts and eat less. Forget that idea. Many nutrition experts fear that soaring food prices will have the opposite effect -- fatten up the nation. It's no accident that high-calorie foods (chips, dips, cookies, candy) are generally cheaper than low-calorie foods (broccoli, asparagus, peaches, blueberries). Processed foods are cheaper to produce, ship and store. As researchers note, this is partly due to agricultural policies, which could be changed, and partly due to the nature of the foods themselves, which can't.
"You can see how this situation could fuel both under-nutrition and over-nutrition," says Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. But despite the fact that a diet could easily get derailed during these lean economic times, it doesn't have to be that way. In a related story, we provide some simple tips to help you stay on track and eat cheaply -- and healthfully.