Meeting UK dietary recommendations is associated with higher estimated consumer food costs: an analysis using the National Diet and Nutrition Survey and consumer expenditure data, 2008-2012.
Jones NRV., Tong TYN., Monsivais P.
OBJECTIVE: To test whether diets achieving recommendations from the UK's Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) were associated with higher monetary costs in a nationally representative sample of UK adults. DESIGN: A cross-sectional study linking 4 d diet diaries in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) to contemporaneous food price data from a market research firm. The monetary cost of diets was assessed in relation to whether or not they met eight food- and nutrient-based recommendations from SACN. Regression models adjusted for potential confounding factors. The primary outcome measure was individual dietary cost per day and per 2000 kcal (8368 kJ). SETTING: UK. SUBJECTS: Adults (n 2045) sampled between 2008 and 2012 in the NDNS. RESULTS: On an isoenergetic basis, diets that met the recommendations for fruit and vegetables, oily fish, non-milk extrinsic sugars, fat, saturated fat and salt were estimated to be between 3 and 17 % more expensive. Diets meeting the recommendation for red and processed meats were 4 % less expensive, while meeting the recommendation for fibre was cost-neutral. Meeting multiple targets was also associated with higher costs; on average, diets meeting six or more SACN recommendations were estimated to be 29 % more costly than isoenergetic diets that met no recommendations. CONCLUSIONS: Food costs may be a population-level barrier limiting the adoption of dietary recommendations in the UK. Future research should focus on identifying systems- and individual-level strategies to enable consumers achieve dietary recommendations without increasing food costs. Such strategies may improve the uptake of healthy eating in the population.