Parents who cannot afford to pay for social activities for their children are more likely to cook unhealthy meals compared to those who have more money, new evidence has revealed.

Academics from City University London have found that parents who are unable to take their children on day trips or holidays tend to treat them with takeaways instead.

During the study, the team of scientists examined the food choices of 60 parents, all of whom lived in disadvantaged areas in England.

Most of the participants shared images with the researchers to show what was preventing them from making healthy food choices.

The findings show that low-income parents have lots of different things to factor in when it comes to their food choices and being able to feed their children within their budget.

According to the scientists, unhealthy food choices can be reduced if child-friendly activities were made more affordable in deprived neighbourhoods.

In addition, the researchers believe that a ban on junk food advertising will help parents adopt healthier food choices.

First author Professor Corinna Hawkes said: “Given the wonderful food available in this country, it’s a travesty how many people’s health is damaged by poor quality diets.

“This study shows that the pathway forward involves understanding how people experience food in their everyday realities.”

She added: “Policy to address inequalities will only work if it recognises that food is more than just nutrition and must meet a wider range of people’s needs, such as social and economic well-being.”

The study has been published online in the journal Health & Place.

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