Affordability of the Eatwell Guide

05 September 2018

  • Comparing the estimated cost of Public Health England’s (PHE) ‘Eatwell Guide’ with household income, shows that the bottom 20% of families would have to spend 42% of their after-housing income on food to eat the Government’s recommended diet.
  • This is nearly four times what the richest 20% of UK families would need to spend on food to meet PHE’s Eatwell Guide
  • 3.7 million children in the UK are living in these households, earning less than £15,860, and are likely to be unable to afford a healthy diet as defined by the Government.
  • 14 million households (half of all households in the UK) currently don’t spend enough to meet the cost of Government’s recommended Eat Well Guide.
  • Widening inequality is leading to higher rates of childhood obesity in deprived areas with 26% of children in Year 6 being obese compared to 11% in England’s richest communities.
  • Findings strengthen calls for a national measurement of food insecurity and the need for further investigation into children’s access to healthy food in the UK (led by the Children’s Future Food Inquiry)

Read the full report and view the infographic

New analysis “Affordability of the Eatwell Guide” from independent think tank the The Food Foundation finds that around 3.7 million children in the UK are part of families who earn less than £15,860 and would have to spend 42% of their after-housing income on food to meet the costs of the Government’s nutrition guidelines, making a healthy diet most likely unaffordable.

Comparing the estimated cost of the PHE Eatwell Guide (PHE’s official guidance on what constitutes a healthy diet and which is based on the latest scientific evidence) to household income in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales shows that the poorest half of households would need to spend nearly 30% of their after-housing income on food to eat the Government’s recommended diet, compared with 12% for the richest half of households.

This analysis comes as children in the UK return to school amid growing concerns over holiday hunger. The availability of free school meals during term-time will be a relief for parents who struggled to feed their children over the holidays.

The unaffordability of a healthy diet for low-income households is highlighted by higher rates of childhood obesity in deprived areas of the country. Over a quarter (26%) of Year Six children in the most deprived areas of England are obese, but obesity affects just 11% in England’s richest communities – and the gap is growing.

The Food Foundation’s food affordability research comes as the Children’s Future Food Inquiry is gathering evidence from those who have witnessed or experienced children’s food insecurity in the UK. With an estimated 3.7 million children living in households that likely cannot afford a healthy diet and record levels of childhood obesity, the parliamentary inquiry is joining calls for a national measurement for food insecurity and next year will present recommendations to policy makers for understanding and tackling children’s food insecurity and its consequences in the UK.

Contacts

Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities
lballin@soilassociation.org

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association
www.soilassociation.org


Food Matters
www.foodmatters.org


Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

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