Healthy food? If only we could afford that!

Healthy option isn’t an option

Picture this. It’s a bustling Sunday morning. You’re at your local supermarket with your kids scurrying around the aisles. Doing your best with the little money you have to get by in the coming week. You’re faced with a dilemma you know only too well. You have 50p left. In your hands, you’ve got a bunch of apples and a packet of biscuits. Which do you choose? For some, the decision is not so easy.

20 million people in the UK are unable to afford to buy healthy food

4.7million people have experienced food insecurity and 1.6million adults could not afford to eat for more than a day.

Unhealthy food: the only choice for many

Buying unhealthy food is not a choice many take lightly. It’s a choice out of necessity forced by the rising prices of healthy food. Healthy food can be three times as expensive as unhealthy food (Butler, 2020).

And the pandemic has only worsened a dire situation. It’s sadly not surprising to hear, from August 2020 to January 2021, a staggering 4.7 million adults have experienced food insecurity. 1.6 million adults report going an entire day without eating, as they simply could not afford or have access to food (Goudie & McIntyre, 2021).

Child hunger is a serious threat our country is facing. 2.3 million children from August 2020 to January 2021 experienced food insecurity (Goudie & McIntyre, 2021). The diets of children at present have a severe impact on their future. Over 50% of children born in the UK in 2020 will experience obesity by the time they are 65 if the diets of those struggling the most do not improve (Butler, 2020).

Why do so many reach for unhealthy food?

The number one factor driving this crisis? Money (Goudie & McIntyre, 2021). Barriers such as money, stress and access to healthy food in stores are the primary drivers that have sentenced countless many to an unhealthy diet (Goudie & McIntyre, 2021; Lasko-Skinner, 2020).

The Food Foundation has recommended key changes the government should enact to avert this issue (Goudie & McIntyre, 2021). For instance, including the costs of a healthy diet in the total amount of benefits to guarantee every recipient is able to afford the recommended Eatwell Guide diet set by the Government (Goudie & McIntyre, 2021). And there’s a much longer road ahead of us to eradicate this problem.

A change needs to happen. It must happen now.


Photo: Ayrton, A. (2021)Woman showing apple and bitten doughnut.

Butler, P. (21 September 2020) UK’s poorest struggle to meet government nutrition guidelines. The Guardian.

Goudie, S. & McIntyre, Z. (2021)A CRISIS WITHIN A CRISIS: The Impact of Covid-19 on Household Food Security. London,Food Foundation.

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