Although bad eating habits are said to be the major cause of obesity and other lifestyle diseases, the question that we should ask outserves is, what options do people have? If you look around, you will find a huge difference in cost per calorie between healthy and unhealthy foods.

In fact, it is very expensive to buy healthy alternative foods. That explains why most people opt for junk. But how accurate is it? To get factual analysis, we have collected data from 6 high-street food eateries, and you might get surprised by what we found.

See also: What does 100 calories look like?

Our random check revealed disturbing facts- that the market is designed to make us eat unhealthy foods. The differences between healthy and unhealthy food alternatives in all eateries are startling. For tangible volumes, we used cost per 100 kcal. Our random sampling included McDonalds, Subway, Burger King, Starbucks, KFC and Pre a Manager and this is what we found.

Infographic: The Cost of Calorie


Our snap check at their menu does not look promising for those struggling with weight issues. If you want to eat healthy at McDonald’s, then you have to dig dipper into the pocket. For their favorite ‘Big Mac,’ which features as the main dish, cost around £0.63 per Kcals.

The side dish (flies) and the sweet treats (Cadbury caramel McFlurry) costs £0.32 and £0.25 per 100 Kcals respectively. However, for their healthy alternative, grilled chicken salad, you have to pay £2.50 per 100 kcal. On average, the difference between healthy alternative and junk is around 397% which very high.

Pret a Manager

Pret a Manager does not make things any better either. Their healthy alternatives are quite expensive compared to junks food. For their main dish, Chicken Caesar & Bacon Baguette, it will cost you about £0.50 per 100 kcal. The side dish (Rock Salt Popcorn) and the Sweet Treats (Lemon Cheesecake) will cost you £0.69 and £0.67 per 100 kcal respectively.

But for a healthy option, Smoked Salmon & Egg Protein Pot, it goes for £2.98 per 100 kcal. On average, the junk food goes for £0.6. That means merely eating healthy at Pret a Manager is 596% more than unhealthy alternatives.


If you interrogate Starbucks differences in cost per calorie, you might get surprised. Eating healthy at this high-street food joint will cost you extra cash per calorie compared to junk. For Mozzarella, Tomato & red Pesto Panini, their main dish, it goes for £0.92per 100 kcal.

The side dish, Granola Bar, costs £0.55 per 100 kcal while the sweet treats, Cinnamon Swirl, goes for £0.50 per 100 kcal. However, Starbuck’s healthy option, grilled Veg & Grain Salad Bowl, goes for £1.98. A simple average cost of calorie shows that eating healthy at Starbucks is 215% more than junk food.


Eating at Subway food joints don’t make you healthier either. Most of what they sell for cheap is junk. For their main dish, Six-Inch Italian B.M.T, it will cost you £0.81 per 100 kcal. The side, Bowl of Meatball, goes for £0.48 per 100 kcal while sweet treats, chocolate chunk cookie, is just £0.30 per 100 kcal. However, their healthy alternative, Italian B.M.T Salad, goes for £1.50. On average, it will cost you 185% more to eat healthy at Subway than eating unhealthy.

Burger King

Burger King has a range of foods with the most affordable being junk. Their burger (Whopper), which is the main dish, goes for £0.72 per 100 kcal. Their side dish, fries, goes for £0.60 per 100 kcal while the sweet treats, Oreo Shake, costs £0.28 per kcal. However, their healthy alternative, Crispy Chicken Salad costs £1.66 per kcal. On average, you will spend £0.73 on unhealthy food. In short, you will pay 231% more to eat healthy at Burger King than unhealthy foods.


From the collected data, KFC is a friendlier food joint compared to the rest. Although it is cheaper to eat healthy at KFC, it doesn’t mean they offer the best. Their fillet tower burger, main dish, goes for £0.80 per 100 Kcal. The side dish, Popcorn Chicken goes for £2.96 while the sweet treats, milky bar krushem, go for £0.46 per 100 kcal.

However, KFC healthy option, original recipe salad pot, is relatively cheap selling at £1.23. Therefore, eating healthy at KFC is about 154% more than eating junk. That is the cheapest healthy meal you can get from the six fast food joint we have sampled.

The bottom line is eating healthy is extremely expensive. The price gap between healthy and unhealthy foods is surprisingly high. The cost of calorie for healthy alternatives is very high. On average, eating convenient, healthy food costs 271% more than unhealthy options. Therefore, most people would opt for the cheap junk food which is harmful to the overall health.

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

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