Background A healthy diet is important to promote health and well-being while preventing chronic disease. However, the monetary cost of consuming such a diet can be a perceived barrier. This study will investigate the cost of consuming a range of dietary patterns.
Methods A cross-sectional analysis, where cost of diet was assigned to dietary intakes recorded using a Food Frequency Questionnaire. A mean daily diet cost was calculated for seven data-driven dietary patterns. These dietary patterns were given a healthiness score according to how well they comply with the UK Department of Health's Eatwell Plate guidelines. This study involved ∼35 000 women recruited in the 1990s into the UK Women's Cohort Study.
Results A significant positive association was observed between diet cost and healthiness of the diet (p for trend >0.001). The healthiest dietary pattern was double the price of the least healthy, £6.63/day and £3.29/day, respectively. Dietary diversity, described by the patterns, was also shown to be associated with increased cost. Those with higher education and a professional or managerial occupation were more likely to consume a healthier diet.
Conclusions A healthy diet is more expensive to the consumer than a less healthy one. In order to promote health through diet and reduce potential inequalities in health, it seems sensible that healthier food choices should be made more accessible to all.
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