Friday, 10 October 2014

Healthy food costs more and the gap to unhealthy food is growing

A new British study tracking the price of 94 key food and beverage items from 2002 to 2012 has found that the price of more healthy foods was consistently greater than that of less healthy foods over the period and that the absolute price gap between healthy and less healthy foods has grown over this period. The authors of“The Growing Price Gap between More and Less Healthy Foods” write that their results tally with the general trend of increasing food prices observed in similar high income nations, as reported in a review, where studies have found that in recent years healthy foods had increased more in price than foods which were less healthy, and that healthier versions of particular foods were more expensive. Another recent review has again found that within given food groups, the healthier option was typically more expensive for meats/protein, snacks/sweets, grains, and fats/oils, whilst healthier dairy foods were found to be less expensive.

The authors conclude:
We have demonstrated a novel linkage of existing economic and nutrition surveillance data to assess trends in the prices of foods in relation to their nutritional value. The growing gap in the price of more healthy and less healthy foods revealed by our analysis leads us to suggest that ongoing monitoring of food prices for public health is warranted. The data linkage we describe could underpin such food price monitoring and provide evidence to inform policy responses to the problem of rising food prices.
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