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What is the cost of a healthy diet? Using diet data from the UK Women's Cohort Study
  1. Michelle A Morris1,
  2. Claire Hulme2,
  3. Graham P Clarke3,
  4. Kimberley L Edwards4,
  5. Janet E Cade1
  1. 1Nutritional Epidemiology Group, School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  2. 2Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  3. 3School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  4. 4Centre for Sports Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correpondence to Michelle A Morris, Nutritional Epidemiology Group, School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK; m.morris{at}leeds.ac.uk

Abstract

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.

  • Diet
  • Epidemiology
  • Health inequalities

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