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The irony of a rich country: issues of financial access to and availability of healthy food in the Republic of Ireland
  1. S Friel1,
  2. O Walsh2,
  3. D McCarthy2
  1. 1National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  2. 2Department of Health Promotion, National University of Ireland, Galway, Republic of Ireland
  1. Correspondence to:
 S Friel
 National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, Mills Road, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia; sharon.friel{at}


Objective: To determine the weekly financial cost of a diet as recommended by national policy in two parents with two children, single parents with one child and single old people with low income, and begin to identify, in a rich country context, variation in food item availability, price and household purchasing capacity.

Design: Food baskets were developed based on national dietary recommendations and purchasing patterns of these household groups. National-level prices of each food were identified, as well as pricing across a representative selection of Irish retail outlet types. Basket costs were assessed relative to the financial capacity of household type.

Results: The types of retail outlets in which low-income groups tend to shop do not carry many own brand items and is less likely to stock healthy options, but when they do, they are more expensive than in other outlets. Single parents with one child, two adults with two children and single older people would have to spend 80%, 69% and 38%, respectively, of their weekly household income to purchase the food basket based on economy-line products.

Conclusions: Financial access to and availability of healthy food options must be considered through a national policy cognisant of basic human needs for healthy living. This research provides evidence on the direct costs of healthy eating for policy and planning to ensure not only financial capacity but also to guarantee that affordable healthy food choices are physically available to all groups in society.

  • MIS, minimum income standard

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  • Funding: The Combat Poverty Agency’s Research Initiative Programme funded this research.

  • Competing interests: None declared.

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