Costing recommended (healthy) and current (unhealthy) diets in urban and inner regional areas of Australia using remote price collection methods

Public Health Nutr. 2022 Mar;25(3):528-537. doi: 10.1017/S1368980021004006. Epub 2021 Sep 21.


Objective: To compare the cost and affordability of two fortnightly diets (representing the national guidelines and current consumption) across areas containing Australia's major supermarkets.

Design: The Healthy Diets Australian Standardised Affordability and Pricing protocol was used.

Setting: Price data were collected online and via phone calls in fifty-one urban and inner regional locations across Australia.

Participants: Not applicable.

Results: Healthy diets were consistently less expensive than current (unhealthy) diets. Nonetheless, healthy diets would cost 25-26 % of the disposable income for low-income households and 30-31 % of the poverty line. Differences in gross incomes (the most available income metric which overrepresents disposable income) drove national variations in diet affordability (from 14 % of the median gross household incomes in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory to 25 % of the median gross household income in Tasmania).

Conclusions: In Australian cities and regional areas with major supermarkets, access to affordable diets remains problematic for families receiving low incomes. These findings are likely to be exacerbated in outer regional and remote areas (not included in this study). To make healthy diets economically appealing, policies that reduce the (absolute and relative) costs of healthy diets and increase the incomes of Australians living in poverty are required.

Keywords: Diet affordability; Food costs; Food price; Price monitoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Humans
  • Income