Is a healthy diet affordable?

New research released by the Institute of Economic Affairs in the United Kingdom (UK) compared the cost of healthy and unhealthy foods.

The report compared the price of food using two methods:

  1. Direct comparisons of healthy and less healthy substitutes (E.g. full-fat yoghurt and low-fat yoghurt).
  2. Comparison of healthy and less healthy substitutes by edible weight.

Prices were taken from two leading British supermarkets in November 2016. Researchers choose the cheapest brands for each product. Examples of healthy substitutes used are wholemeal bread for white bread, low-fat yoghurt for full-fat yoghurt and bran flakes for chocolate breakfast cereal.  

Main findings from the direct substitute’s method include:

  • Researchers found little difference in the price of regular food compared with its healthier substitute.
  • Some healthier food were more expensive than their less healthy counterparts (beef mince and rice).
  • Some healthier foods cost less than their less healthy substitutes (breakfast cereal, yoghurt).
  • The majority of healthy and less healthy foods cost the same.

Main findings from the cost by edible weight method include:

  • Healthier food was found to be cheaper than less healthy food.
  • A large amount of fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates are available at less than £2.00 per Kg.
  • Less healthy foods such as ready meals and chocolate cost £3.00 or more per Kg.

This research finds that healthy food generally costs the same or is less costly than less healthy food. For more information on food shopping and meal planning take a look at our "tips" videos.


Posted: 08/03/2017 15:26:37 by Anne Parle
Filed under: Cost, Food shopping, Healthy food, Unhealthy food


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