It is disheartening that the price of healthier foods continues to remain much higher than foods laden with unhealthy levels of fat, sugar, and salt in the UK.
Britain’s ‘broken food system’ has made freedom to choose between healthy and unhealthy food a ‘myth’.
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Britain’s ‘Broken Food System’
The UK’s food system and high poverty rates are putting Britons’ health at risk. Childhood obesity levels continue to worsen in Scotland and England, as the inequality gap between the most and least deprived children continues to widen.
And the Covid-19 pandemic has only increased the rate of food poverty and increased the burden of nutrition-related chronic diseases, a report by the Food Foundation found.
This affects low-income families in the sense that such families are left with “little or no choice” about diet. They are forced to either starve or depend on unhealthy food for survival because it is more affordable.
Income, one of the metrics used by the Ford Foundation to provide a holistic picture of the UK’s food system is listed as being among the top 10 influencers of dietary choices.
And as such, low-income families continue to be deprived of the time or money to ensure they’re eating a healthy diet.
“Covid-19 is also pushing more people into poverty,” said Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the Food Foundation.
More so, people in deprived areas are twice as likely to be obese as better-off families due to overpriced healthy foods, deepening the health divide between wealthy and poor.
“Unhealthy food is so cheap because the prime ingredients can be mass-produced and these products can be created in a non-perishable form,” Ms. Taylor said.
The price gap between the cost of healthy and unhealthy foods continues to increase, with the average cost of healthy foods in 2019 being around £7.68 compared to £2.48 for less healthy food of the same calorific value.
While there might have been some positive changes to the food environment, many things are still moving too slowly or not at all, according to the Food Foundation report.
Ms. Taylor states that “If you have a lot of money, you can kind of buy your way out of the problem,”
She goes on to add that “If you don’t have a lot of money, you’re stuck with that toxic combination of having not much money combined with the unhealthy food environment that we already have, which is leading to some of those worrying health outcomes.”