Monitoring the price and affordability of foods and diets globally

Authors

  • A. Lee,

    Corresponding author
    • School of Public Health and Social Work and School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • C. N. Mhurchu,

    1. School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • G. Sacks,

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • B. Swinburn,

    1. School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
    2. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • W. Snowdon,

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Pacific Research Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Non-communicable Diseases (C-POND), Suva, Fiji
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • S. Vandevijvere,

    1. School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • C. Hawkes,

    1. World Cancer Research Fund International, London, UK
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  • M. L'Abbé,

    1. Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • M. Rayner,

    1. British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • D. Sanders,

    1. School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • S. Barquera,

    1. National Institute of Public Health, Mexico City, Mexico
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  • S. Friel,

    1. National Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
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  • B. Kelly,

    1. School of Health and Society, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
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  • S. Kumanyika,

    1. Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
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  • T. Lobstein,

    1. International Association for the Study of Obesity, London, UK
    2. Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
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  • J. Ma,

    1. Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC), Beijing, China
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  • J. Macmullan,

    1. Consumers International, London, UK
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  • S. Mohan,

    1. Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India
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  • C. Monteiro,

    1. School of Public Health, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
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  • B. Neal,

    1. The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
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  • C. Walker,

    1. Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Geneva, Switzerland
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  • INFORMAS

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    • INFORMAS is the International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support. All authors who are not members of the writing group are listed in alphabetical order, and contributed to discussion of the key concepts and issues raised in this manuscript as part of the first formal meeting of INFORMAS from 19 to 23 November 2012.

Address for correspondence: Professor A Lee, School of Public Health and Social Work and School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park, Road Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, Queensland 4059, Australia.

E-mail: amanda.lee@qut.edu.au

Summary

Food prices and food affordability are important determinants of food choices, obesity and non-communicable diseases. As governments around the world consider policies to promote the consumption of healthier foods, data on the relative price and affordability of foods, with a particular focus on the difference between ‘less healthy’ and ‘healthy’ foods and diets, are urgently needed. This paper briefly reviews past and current approaches to monitoring food prices, and identifies key issues affecting the development of practical tools and methods for food price data collection, analysis and reporting. A step-wise monitoring framework, including measurement indicators, is proposed. ‘Minimal’ data collection will assess the differential price of ‘healthy’ and ‘less healthy’ foods; ‘expanded’ monitoring will assess the differential price of ‘healthy’ and ‘less healthy’ diets; and the ‘optimal’ approach will also monitor food affordability, by taking into account household income. The monitoring of the price and affordability of ‘healthy’ and ‘less healthy’ foods and diets globally will provide robust data and benchmarks to inform economic and fiscal policy responses. Given the range of methodological, cultural and logistical challenges in this area, it is imperative that all aspects of the proposed monitoring framework are tested rigorously before implementation.

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