Healthy eating too expensive

5 February 2014

A healthy diet is out of reach for people on a low income, research from ANU has revealed.

The study on food prices in Sydney's Western suburbs found that cost is an important influence on people's food choices.

"The most disadvantaged households would have to spend up to 48 per cent of their weekly income on a healthy and sustainable diet, while the most advantaged households would spend only 9 per cent of their weekly income," said lead researcher Professor Sharon Friel.

The cost of a week's worth of healthy and environmentally sustainable of food was 30 per cent more than the average basket in the lower socioeconomic neighbourhood of Ingelburn.

"Until sustainable options become more affordable and income levels reflect the real cost of living in a sustainable way, people will continue to disregard environmental considerations when making food purchases," Professor Friel said.
"Climate change has affected the price and availability of food in Australia and other countries.

"Sustainable food options often cost more than regular foods and that cost difference is a recognised barrier to healthy and sustainable consumption."

The price of domestic fresh fruit and vegetables increased by more than 30 per cent between 2005 and 2007 due to drought and increased severe weather events, says Professor Friel.

The paper was published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.