The authors have stated they have no conflict of interest.
The cost of a healthy and sustainable diet – who can afford it?
Article first published online: 4 FEB 2014
© 2014 The Authors. ANZJPH © 2014 Public Health Association of Australia
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume 38, Issue 1, pages 7–12, February 2014
How to Cite
Barosh, L., Friel, S., Engelhardt, K. and Chan, L. (2014), The cost of a healthy and sustainable diet – who can afford it?. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 38: 7–12. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12158
- Issue published online: 4 FEB 2014
- Article first published online: 4 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 1 SEP 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 1 JAN 2013
- Manuscript Received: 1 DEC 2012
- food security;
- food affordability;
- dietary choice;
- climate change;
- health inequalities;
- urban health
Objective: Climate change is affecting the ability of food systems to provide sufficient nutritious and affordable foods at all times. Healthy and sustainable (H&S) food choices are important contributions to health and climate change policy efforts. This paper presents empirical data on the affordability of a food basket that incorporates principles of health and sustainability across different food sub-systems, socioeconomic neighbourhoods and household income levels in Greater Western Sydney, Australia.
Methods: A basket survey was used to investigate the cost of both a typical basket of food and a hypothetical H&S basket. The price of foods in the two baskets was recorded in five neighbourhoods, and the affordability of the baskets was determined across household income quintiles.
Results: The cost of the H&S basket was more than the typical basket in all five socioeconomic neighbourhoods, with most disadvantaged neighbourhood spending proportionately more (30%) to buy the H&S basket. Within household income levels, the greatest inequity was found in the middle income neighbourhood, showing that households in the lowest income quintile would have to spend up to 48% of their weekly income to buy the H&S basket, while households in the highest income quintile would have to spend significantly less of their weekly income (9%).
Conclusion: The most disadvantaged groups in the region, both at the neighbourhood and household level, experience the greatest inequality in affordability of the H&S diet.
Implications: The results highlight the current inequity in food choice in the region and the underlying social issues of cost and affordability of H&S foods.