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Inflation starves America of nutrition: Golden/TIPP



It is a new year, but some concerns from the past year continue to haunt Americans. Among their chief concerns is the condition of the economy. With the country in the grip of prolonged inflation, prices of essential goods have remained high for months. Though food and fuel prices have eased off from their respective record peaks, the inflated rates still force most Americans to make tough decisions regarding their eating habits.

The TIPP Poll conducted in early January found that almost half, 44%, of those who took part in the survey listed “food” as one of the top three concerns facing Americans this month. Only inflation scored higher, and gasoline prices took the third spot.

The Golden/TIPP Poll looked closely at how Americans deal with high shelf prices, especially regarding their food budget. We posed the question to over 1350 adults. The response to “Is the rising cost of healthy food items making it difficult for you to afford nutritious food or not?” read:

  • 60% Yes
  • 40% No

Inflation Starves America Of Nutrition: Golden/TIPP

Region-wise,the numbers are grimmer. A majority in most parts of the country have chosen to make changes to their food shopping habits.

  • 66% for Northeast
  • 62% for Midwest
  • 62% for South
  • 53% for West

There was a notable disparity based on the area of residence. Suburbanites were seen to be making the least changes, at 57%. While 60% of city dwellers were affected by rising food costs, a majority, 66% of those residing in rural areas, were cutting back on nutritious food.

There is one small solace in this dismal picture. Seniors recorded the smallest numbers cutting back on nutritious food due to high prices at 40%. That is little comfort considering that most other age categories are not faring so well. The percentage of those finding it difficult to afford nutritious food by age reads:

  • 69% for 18-24 years
  • 67% for 25-44 years
  • 64% for 45-64 years
  • 40% for 65 and over

Predictably those making changes to their grocery lists and factoring in the high price of food items are highest in the lower income bracket and least among the well-off.

  • 71% for Under $30K households
  • 65% for $30K-$50K
  • 57% for $50K-$75K
  • 46% for $75K plus

Inflation Starves America Of Nutrition: Golden/TIPP

The ongoing inflation is eating into everyone’s budgets. Americans are putting off holidays and big-ticket purchases. But worryingly, a majority, 57%, have cut back on groceries purchases, and 44% are opting to give up high-priced items like meat.

Many are making pocket-friendly choices and opting for cheaper items and budget-friendly stores to feed their families. Understandably, eating at home was one of the most popular ways to spend less. The majority of survey participants said they ate out less often. While more than a third of the participants are patronizing bargain stores, cheaper store brands are finding favor with many shoppers. To tackle food inflation from wrecking the family budget:

  • 38% shop at bargain stores
  • 53% buy store brands
  • 76% have cut back on eating out

Distressingly, the survey found that American families are resorting to drastic measures to stretch the dollar. Beyond buying less, many have resorted to eating less or controlling portion sizes. Such extreme methods could impact a person’s health and well-being. The survey found that –

  • 18% skip meals
  • 28% eat less (portions)

Many have sought every available means to put three square meals on the table. The poll found that –

  • 16% applied & got SNAP/WIC
  • 16% supplement with food banks
  • 12% are growing vegetables

Inflation Starves America Of Nutrition: Golden/TIPP

According to some estimates, roughly 12% of the American population, or more than 26 million people, rely on SNAP to stretch their food budgets. With the administration having little success in reining in the raging inflation, food prices will likely remain high for the foreseeable future.

The current geopolitical climate, including the ongoing Ukraine War, is not conducive to bringing down food prices in the short term. With fears of stagflation and/or recession weighing on Americans’ minds, many will likely continue to resort to cutting back on food or going without to make ends meet.

We welcome readers’ letters via email. If your letter is published, you get to ask a question in the TIPP Poll for free.
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Republished with permission from TIPP Insights

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