Health and nutrition economics: diet costs are associated with diet quality

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2009;18(4):598-604.


The WHO asserts that the global food price crisis threatens public health and jeopardizes the health of the most disadvantaged groups such as women, children, the elderly and low-income families. Economic factors play a crucial role and could affect personal nutrition status and health. Economic decision factors such as food price and income do influence people's food choices. Moreover, food costs are a barrier for low income-families to healthier food choices. Several studies indicate that diet costs are associated with dietary quality and also food safety. Food prices have surged over the past couple of years (2007-9) and raised serious concerns about food security around the world. Rising food prices are having severe impacts on population health and nutritional status. Therefore, people who change their diet pattern for economic reasons may develop a range of nutritionally-related disorders and diseases, from so-called over-nutrition to or with under-nutrition even within the one household. This is likely to increase with growing food insecurity. Presently, economics is not integrated with mainstream nutrition science or practice, other than in "home economics", but it can enable greater understanding of how socioeconomic status may interplay with human nutritional status and health and how these situations might be resolved. Collaborative, cross-disciplinary nutritional economics research should play a greater role in the prevention and management of food crises.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Diet / economics*
  • Female
  • Food / economics*
  • Food Analysis
  • Food Industry / economics
  • Food Industry / trends
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Disorders / economics
  • Socioeconomic Factors