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A healthy diet consistent with Australian health recommendations is too expensive for welfare-dependent families


Correspondence to:
Melanie Voevodin, Nestlé Healthcare Nutrition, 20-24 Howleys Road, Notting Hill, Victoria 3168, Australia. Fax: (03) 8588 0599; e-mail:


Objective: Examine the cost of healthy food habits for welfare-dependent families in Australia.

Method: A seven-day meal plan was developed, based on Australian public health recommendations, for two typical welfare-dependent families: a couple-family (two adults, two children) and a one-parent family (one adult, two children). The cost of the meal plan was calculated using market brand and generic brand grocery items, and total cost compared to income.

Results: In Australia, the cost of healthy food habits uses about 40% of the disposable income of welfare-dependent families. Families earning an average income would spend only 20% of their disposable income to buy the same healthy food. Substituting generic brands for market brands reduced the weekly food cost by about 13%. This is one of few economic models to include generic brands.

Conclusion: Compared with average-income Australian families, healthy food habits are a fiscal challenge to welfare-dependent families.

Implications: These results provide a benchmark for economic and social policy analysis, and the influence disposable income has on prioritising healthy food habits.

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