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Infographic: This is why you're fat, America

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The price of unhealthy foods -- soda, butter, beer -- has drastically dropped while prices of healthy foods has increased significantly, according to a chart of data over the last three decades.

The prices of food and beverages have fluctuated quite a bit in the last 30 years -- and you'll be shocked to know that soda is now cheaper to purchase than a bag of oranges.

Of course, if you frequent the grocery store, this may not come as a surprise. But the proof is in the data. According to this chart of inflation-adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of food we generally deem "unhealthy" -- soda, butter and beer have seen double-digit percentage price decreases as fish, vegetables and fruit have seen drastic increases.

Here's the outlay comparing now to 1978:

  • Soda (orange line) is 33 percent cheaper
  • Butter (dark brown) is 29 percent cheaper
  • Beer (gray) is 15 percent cheaper
  • Fish (yellow) is 2 percent more expensive
  • Vegetables (purple) are 41 percent more expensive
  • Fruits (green) are 46 percent more expensive.
  • Bucking the trend, cookies (blue) are now more expensive.

David Leonhardt, who compiled the chart, offers more detail at the Economix blog:

The price of oranges, to take one extreme example (not shown in the chart), has more than doubled, relative to everything else. So if in 1978, a bag of oranges cost the same as one big bottle of soda, today that bag costs the same as three big bottles of soda.

Meanwhile, the average 18-year-old today is 15 pounds heavier than his or her counterpart in the 1970s, while adults have put on more than 20 pounds more than their 1970s selves.

As Leonhardt explains, it's all about how these products are taxed or subsidized -- and the resulting behavior by consumers when they arrive at the cash register.

[via Consumerist]

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure