Why a healthier diet is more expensive
Increasing the money one spends on food is linked to a better quality diet, particularly increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, leading to a healthier weight and decreased risk of cardiometabolic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems, the study showed.
“We have seen that a 1.4 euro increase in average spending on food is associated with the consumption of 74 grams more vegetables and 52 grams more fruit, per person per day, for a 1,000 kcal diet,” said Helmut Schröder, researcher at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) in Barcelona, Spain.
“Conversely, a reduction of 6 cent in average spending is linked to a decrease of 121 grams of vegetables and 94 grams of fruit, as well as increased consumption of foodstuffs like fast food and baked goods,” he added.
The study, that was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, raises awareness for public health officials and underlines the need for policies and action that can promote healthy diets which is accessible to people of all income levels, the researchers elicited.
The policies should have implications for food prices, agriculture, and fiscal policies, as well as the implementation of consumer aid programmes, they added.
The researchers monitored a group of 2,181 Spanish men and women aged 25 to 74, all part of the REGICOR (Registre Gironí del Cor) programme, for a period of ten years.
They measured their height and weight, and recorded dietary data obtained from a scientifically validated food frequency questionnaire.
The average food cost was calculated using official government data. Between 2000 and 2010, the price of healthy food rose sharply in Spain when compared with less healthy options.
The cost of healthier foods, meaning those low in calories and rich in nutrients, like fruit, increased by 50 percent, while pastries and processed products only went up 10 percent and 23.1 percent, respectively.
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