Spending more money on food is linked to a healthier diet, according to new research.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), Barcelona, suggests that eating a healthy diet is significantly more expensive than eating an unhealthy one. It is not the first study to reach this conclusion: in May 2015, a study found that processed foods are consistently getting cheaper, as healthy food – especially fruits and vegetables – become progressively more expensive.
In this study, the researchers examined the data of 2,181 Spanish men and women, all of whom were between the ages of 25 and 74. They measured height and weight, and gathered data about diet from a food frequency questionnaire. They used government data to work out the cost of particular foodstuffs.
With every 1.4 Euro increase in food spending, the participants consumed an average of 74g more vegetables and 52g more fruit. An average spending reduction of 0.06 Euros was linked to a decrease in vegetable and fruit consumption of 121g and 94g respectively. Reducing food spend was also linked to higher consumption of fast and processed baked goods, a high consumption of which increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
“This implies weight gain that could be related to a higher risk of cardiometabolic complications in the future,” said Helmut Schröder, a researcher in the IMIM’s cardiovascular risk and nutrition groups.
The researchers note that the price of healthy food went up significantly between 2000 and 2010, with fruit and vegetables becoming 50 per cent more expensive.
The work, which builds on other, similar studies, suggests that more must be done at a policy level to make healthy diets a viable option for people with low incomes. Several commentators have suggested government subsidies for fruit and vegetables in order to lower prices, or taxes on unhealthy foods to make them less appealing as a cheap alternative.
The findings are published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

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