|Your waistline isn’t the only thing a healthy diet can trim. By eating healthier foods, you can also keep your savings account in great shape. In honor of World Health Day, April 7, we took a look at exactly how much money a healthy diet can save you.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, healthy diets cost approximately $550 more per year than unhealthy diets. So, let’s assume you’re 35 years old and will live to age 79 — the current average life expectancy for Americans. Over the next 44 years, you’d spend an extra $24,200 on food by switching from an unhealthy diet to a much healthier one.
Fortunately, you’ll save that amount and more in other ways. Continue reading to learn how.
Health Care Costs
A healthy diet will reduce your risk of developing various health conditions. Some of the most common and serious conditions include heart disease and diabetes. These are not only dangerous to your health, but your wallet.
According to CNN, the average cost to treat a heart attack without major complications ranges from $3,300 to over $92,000 nationally. Taking the middle ground, you would incur $47,650 in charges. Assuming a deductible of $1,500 and an 80/20 co-insurance, you’d shell out $11,030.
As for diabetes, the average patient’s medical expenses are about 2.3 times higher than those without this condition. Per CNN, the average annual out-of-pocket medical cost for a family of four is $3,200. Take one-fourth of that — $800 — and multiply it by 2.3, and you’d end up paying $1,840 per year as a diabetic. That’s an additional $1,040 annually which, over 44 years, would add up to $45,760.
A 2011 Gallup study found that the average obese American with one to two chronic conditions missed 1.08 days of work per month. That’s an additional 0.74 missed workdays per month, compared to the baseline of 0.34.
Assuming you’re 35 years old and work until age 65, that would add up to an extra 266 days away from the office over the remainder of your career. If you work 50 weeks annually, you’d miss over a year of work due to an unhealthy diet.
If you earn an average of $50,000 per year during that time, your career earnings would be $53,200 lower, assuming those extra missed days aren’t paid.
How Much Could You Save?
While there are a plethora of variables to consider, let’s examine how much you’d save using the mentioned examples. By avoiding just a heart attack and Type 2 diabetes, for example, you could save $109,990 in combined healthcare costs and foregone earnings. Subtract the extra $24,200 you’d pay for groceries and you’re left with $85,790. That’s a fair chunk to pump into retirement savings or anything else you choose by simply changing your eating habits!