• food health policy;
  • food choice;
  • food prices;
  • food availability;
  • socioeconomic group

To assess whether the foods and diet being promoted by the local Food Health Policy are affordable by and available to all sections of the community, cost and availability of a wide range of foods was recorded in the main supermarkets in Hampstead, an Inner London Health District. It was found that the recommended foods and diet were more expensive and less available than alternatives, particularly in deprived areas. This is a constraint to changing over to a healthier diet, particularly for people on very low levels of income i.e. those on pensions and benefits. Healthy eating programmes should take these constraints into consideration and efforts to increase the availability of cheap, healthy food should be a priority at national and local level. Higher pensions and benefit levels would also create more equitable access to healthy diets.