InsideHalton Article: Cost of a healthy diet rising: regional report

Cost of a healthy diet rising: regional report Some families in Halton can’t afford a nutritious diet according to a report prepared by the Halton Region Health Department.

The report, which was shared with Halton regional council’s health and social services committee today (November 6), stated that poverty is a key social determinant of health, linking it to food insecurity, reduced diet quality and increased risk in developing chronic disease.

The report also detailed the results of a survey measuring the cost of basic healthy eating based on current nutrition recommendations and average food purchasing patterns.

The Nutritious Food Basket survey, which was packaged in a four-page document and distributed to a number of community agencies in Halton, found that the cost of a healthy diet is rising, making it increasingly more difficult for many low-income households to afford nutritious foods. The survey shows that in order to provide a very basic healthy diet for a family of four, groceries would cost $ 179.82 weekly. However, for families earning minimum wage, a basic healthy diet may be a challenge after factoring in rent and paying for monthly expenses like heat and electricity, telephone, insurance, transportation child care expenses and household items.

The report revealed those who earn less money like people on social assistance, are at greater risk of being unable to afford healthy food. Their diets are usually comprised of foods higher in fat, sodium and sugar and low in fruits, vegetables and milk products.

“Households need adequate incomes that allow them to buy nutritious food if they are to reduce their risks of health problems and limit nutrient deficiencies,” the report stated. “Otherwise, these risks may impact not only the individuals but also increase health care costs for our society.”

The report offers the solution of healthy public policy that addresses increases in social assistance income and minimum wage rates and improves access to affordable housing as a way to improve a family’s access to healthy food.

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