Healthiest Diets May Be Most Expen$ive

Dr Michelle Morris Research Fellow Nutritional Epidemiology Group School of Food Science & Nutrition University of Leeds MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Michelle Morris
Research Fellow
Nutritional Epidemiology Group
School of Food Science & Nutrition
University of Leeds

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Morris: The healthiest diets consumed by UK Women are the most expensive. This study is UK centric, using dietary patterns consumed by UK women and scored for healthiness according to the UK Department of Health Eatwell Plate. Cost of diet was estimated using average prices taken from an evaluated UK food cost database.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Morris: I think this study confirms what many people thought. However, I was surprised at how big the difference was in daily diet cost between the healthiest and least healthy diets. Mean costs showed that the healthiest diet was double the cost of the least healthy – over £3 per day more expensive. Even after accounting for age, energy intake and expenditure and markers of socioeconomic status, the healthiest diet was over £2 per day more expensive.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Morris: A healthy diet is important to promote health and prevent disease. While this report shows that a healthy diet is more expensive, it should still be encouraged. Diet cost was estimated from average supermarket prices in this research. A thrifty shopper could consume a healthy diet for less. Hopefully this report will be read by those who have influence on food prices in the UK and contribute to action being taken to make healthy food choices more accessible.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Morris: Investigation into whether cost of diet is associated with health outcomes should be the next step.

Citation:

What is the cost of a healthy diet? Using diet data from the UK Women’s Cohort Study
Michelle A Morris, Claire Hulme, Graham P Clarke, Kimberley L Edwards, Janet E Cade

J Epidemiol Community Health jech-2014-204039Published Online First: 22 July 2014 doi:10.1136/jech-2014-204039