Healthy diets in rural Victoria—Cheaper than unhealthy alternatives, yet unaffordable

Penelope Love, Jillian Whelan, Colin Bell, Felicity Grainger, Cherie Russell, Meron Lewis, Amanda Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Rural communities experience higher rates of obesity and reduced food security compared with urban communities. The perception that healthy foods are expensive contributes to poor dietary choices. Providing an accessible, available, affordable healthy food supply is an equitable way to improve the nutritional quality of the diet for a community, however, local food supply data are rarely available for small rural towns. This study used the Healthy Diets ASAP tool to assess price, price differential and affordability of recommended (healthy) and current diets in a rural Local Government Area (LGA) (pop ≈ 7000; 10 towns) in Victoria, Australia. All retail food outlets were surveyed (n = 40). The four most populous towns had supermarkets; remaining towns had one general store each. Seven towns had café/take-away outlets, and all towns had at least one hotel/pub. For all towns the current unhealthy diet was more expensive than the recommended healthy diet, with 59.5% of the current food budget spent on discretionary items. Affordability of the healthy diet accounted for 30–32% of disposable income. This study confirms that while a healthy diet is less expensive than the current unhealthier diet, affordability is a challenge for rural communities. Food security is reduced further with restricted geographical access, a limited healthy food supply, and higher food prices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2469
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume15
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

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