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Costing ‘healthy’ food baskets in Australia – a systematic review of food price and affordability monitoring tools, protocols and methods

  • Meron Lewis (a1) and Amanda Lee (a1) (a2)
Abstract
Abstract Objective

To undertake a systematic review to determine similarities and differences in metrics and results between recently and/or currently used tools, protocols and methods for monitoring Australian healthy food prices and affordability.

Design

Electronic databases of peer-reviewed literature and online grey literature were systematically searched using the PRISMA approach for articles and reports relating to healthy food and diet price assessment tools, protocols, methods and results that utilised retail pricing.

Setting

National, state, regional and local areas of Australia from 1995 to 2015.

Subjects

Assessment tools, protocols and methods to measure the price of ‘healthy’ foods and diets.

Results

The search identified fifty-nine discrete surveys of ‘healthy’ food pricing incorporating six major food pricing tools (those used in multiple areas and time periods) and five minor food pricing tools (those used in a single survey area or time period). Analysis demonstrated methodological differences regarding: included foods; reference households; use of availability and/or quality measures; household income sources; store sampling methods; data collection protocols; analysis methods; and results.

Conclusions

‘Healthy’ food price assessment methods used in Australia lack comparability across all metrics and most do not fully align with a ‘healthy’ diet as recommended by the current Australian Dietary Guidelines. None have been applied nationally. Assessment of the price, price differential and affordability of healthy (recommended) and current (unhealthy) diets would provide more robust and meaningful data to inform health and fiscal policy in Australia. The INFORMAS ‘optimal’ approach provides a potential framework for development of these methods.

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Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Email meronelsie@yahoo.com.au
References
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