Cost and Affordability of Healthy, Equitable and Sustainable Diets in Low Socioeconomic Groups in Australia

Nutrients. 2021 Aug 23;13(8):2900. doi: 10.3390/nu13082900.


Few Australians consume a healthy, equitable and more sustainable diet consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADGs). Low socioeconomic groups (SEGs) suffer particularly poor diet-related health problems. However, granular information on dietary intakes and affordability of recommended diets was lacking for low SEGs. The Healthy Diets Australian Standardised Affordability and Pricing protocol was modified for low SEGs to align with relevant dietary intakes reported in the National Nutrition Survey 2011-2012(which included less healthy and more discretionary options than the broader population), household structures, food purchasing habits, and incomes. Cost and affordability of habitual and recommended diets of low SEGs were calculated using prices of 'standard brands' and 'cheapest options'. With 'standard brands', recommended diets cost less than habitual diets, but were unaffordable for low SEGs. With 'cheapest options', both diets were more affordable, but recommended diets cost more than habitual diets for some low SEGs, potentially contributing to perceptions that healthy food is unaffordable. The study confirms the need for an equity lens to better target dietary guidelines for low SEGs. It also highlights urgent policy action is needed to help improve affordability of recommended diets.

Keywords: Australia; diet affordability; diet cost; dietary guidelines; healthy eating; low income; low socioeconomic.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Consumer Behavior / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet, Healthy / economics*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Food Insecurity / economics*
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances / economics
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class*
  • Social Determinants of Health / economics*