Will The Economic Downturn Threaten Health?

Consumers Shifting to Inferior Goods

There may be some health benefits from consumers cutting back on spending…

Some are skipping drinks altogether. The number of people ordering an alcoholic drink fell to 31 percent last month from 42 percent last summer, according to a survey of 2,500 people conducted by Technomic, a restaurant industry consulting firm.

Other choices may be neutral – with a trade off from cheap take-away calories to even cheaper stay at home meals:

Wal-Mart Stores reports stronger-than-usual sales of peanut butter and spaghetti, while restaurants like Domino’s Pizza and Ruby Tuesday have suffered a falloff in orders, suggesting that many Americans are sticking to low-cost home-cooked meals.

However the long run would likely see many people moving down the nutrition spectrum, suffering the health risks that already plague the poorer members of society:

Burt Flickinger, a long-time retail consultant, said the last time he saw such significant changes in consumer buying patterns was the late 1970s, when runaway inflation prompted Americans to “switch from red meat to pork to poultry to pasta — then to peanut butter and jelly.”

Perhaps if hording is the strategy of the day, it’s a good time to stock up on frozen meat, before meat starts to track grain prices…

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