From ABC News Online
The rising cost of healthy foods
On Friday the Preventative Health Taskforce released a major discussion paper putting forward strategies to prevent and reverse the rise in overweight and obesity.
Obesity and other diet-related diseases such as heart disease and dental caries account for a large percentage of the health cost in Australia and are hitting those with the least financial and social resources the hardest. These preventable diseases will continue to plague our most vulnerable while the cost of healthy foods remains out of their reach.
Why do poor people eat poorly? Inevitably the answer has been “because they do not know any better”. This supposed ignorance has been the justification for the last 20 to 30 years of nutrition education. Health authorities have used dietary guidelines and exhortations to teach people about how to eat a healthy diet.
However, while consumers do need to have nutrition knowledge and food skills, and indeed many young Australians may not have either, knowledge is not the only ingredient for a healthy diet. The cost and taste of food are the strongest determinant of food purchase. As people’s income drops, cost becomes the primary driver of what they put in their trolleys. “Getting the most food for the least cost” becomes the modus operandi in the supermarket.