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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

  • Nicholas RV Jones (a1), Tammy YN Tong (a1) and Pablo Monsivais (a1) (a2)

Abstract

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.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Email p.monsivais@wsu.edu

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