Why choosing ‘healthy’ food isn’t as easy as it seems
Did you know it’s far cheaper to eat unhealthy processed food in the UK than it is to make healthy dietary choices? In other words, if you don’t have much change in your pocket, healthy food could be beyond your reach – and that could have a major impact on the health of the nation.
“Our diets are now the greatest threat to our health,” says Anna Taylor, the executive director of the Food Foundation and former head of nutrition at Department for International Development. Her quote sums up the concerns of a new report by the Food Foundation, an independent think tank based in London. The study hones in on the impact of poor diets on British children and the lack of regulation in the food sector… And it’s a worry.
While the findings in this report are alarming, the central idea is nothing new. This report aligns with the findings in the Family Food Survey published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2012. What’s perhaps more concerning is that the findings are still an enormous issue years later.
“We have to put a halt to the obesity time bomb. Kids are now becoming diabetic in their teens. In any other policy area, children becoming chronically ill would be stopped immediately,” says Laura Sandys, chair of the Food Foundation and former Conservative MP.
The study states that just one leading brand of yogurt contains nearly all the sugar meant for a child’s daily allowance. Yet, says the report, these brands are less expensive than all-natural, plain yogurts. The question is, why? Advertising comes under attack, too, as the study points out the unregulated hours in which ‘unhealthy’ processed foods are allowed to air on television.
The analysis, which studied the nutrition and cost of what families eat, is urging the Government to take action to counteract the systematic issues they believe ‘constantly and systemically’ steer British families’ shopping choices ‘towards unhealthy foods’.
The report urges regulators to…
- Help close the disparity in the cost of ‘unhealthy versus ‘healthy’ foods
- Ban ‘unhealthy’ food advertising before 9pm
- Make transparent information on processed foods more widely available and understandable
- Place a tax on sugary drinks
Now that the report’s findings are laid out, the real question is, will these actions make a difference?
To help save money on your weekly shop, seek out end-of-day bargains (Saturdays are a good day) and try batch-cooking and freezing half as buying bulk items usually means lower cost. With families spending on average 18 percent of their budget on food it’s shocking that many still throw away six meals per week, according to the study – freezable recipes are one way to help remedy this issue.
Avoid processed food wherever possible, which means spending most of your shopping time in the perimeter of the supermarket – where produce, meat and dairy are usually kept – and a little less in the middle. And lastly, add some meat-free days into your week, swapping meat for pulses and beans will reduce the grocery bill and keep you just as full. It could make all the difference…