Posted: Mon 2nd Oct 2023

Cost-of-Living Crisis impacts healthy eating habits, survey finds

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Oct 2nd, 2023

The escalating cost-of-living crisis is adversely impacting the dietary choices of UK consumers, with more than a quarter reportedly consuming less healthy food due to financial constraints, a study suggests.

The BBC Good Food Nation survey reveals a concerning shift towards ready meals and processed foods as individuals seek more budget-friendly options.

Despite 69% of respondents considering themselves healthy eaters, 28% admit to opting for less nutritious food due to its high cost.

The survey further highlights that 19% are consuming more ready meals and processed food as they are more affordable.

Additionally, 17% are cooking less from scratch, and 16% are reducing their purchase of organic food and ingredients due to financial limitations.

The cost has also led 12% to cut back on protein intake.

The cost-of-living crisis is not only affecting food choices but also influencing shopping habits, with 28% changing their supermarket to economise.

Overall, 61% say that the cost of living has in some way impacted their healthy eating habits, including 18% who are more conscious of eating healthily as they cannot afford to fall ill, and 15% eating less healthily due to stress.

Christine Hayes, editor in chief of BBC Good Food, underscores the dilemma faced by consumers as rising costs force them to compromise on their dietary choices, leading to an increased purchase of processed food and ready meals and a shift in supermarket preferences to save money.

The survey also sheds light on the effort to minimize waste, with 36% of consumers producing fewer leftovers to save money, plan meals more carefully, and contribute to reducing waste to aid the planet.

The most commonly discarded foods include salad leaves, bread, fruit, and vegetables.

Sue Davies, Which? Head of Food Policy, echoes the survey findings, emphasising the crucial role of supermarkets in supporting consumers through this crisis by ensuring the availability of budget products that enable a healthy diet, especially in more expensive convenience stores.

She said: “These findings echo our own research findings that many people are finding it more difficult to eat healthily as millions struggle with increased food prices and other high household bills. 

“Supermarkets have an important role supporting people through this crisis. This includes helping customers who rely on more expensive convenience stores by ensuring they stock a range of budget products that enable people to have a healthy diet.”

In response to the growing concern over food insecurity and affordability, Which? has launched the Affordable Food For All Campaign, urging supermarkets to ensure the widespread availability of own-brand budget line items throughout all branches, including smaller ‘convenience’ stores, and enhance pricing and offer transparency.

The campaign, supported by almost 110,000 signatories, aims to alleviate the burden on consumers and promote healthy eating despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

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