Tuesday 24 April 2018

How eating healthy pushes struggling families to the breadline

A basket of nutritious food will set a two-parent family with two children back between €121 and €160 a week. Stock Image: Getty Images/Caiaimage
A basket of nutritious food will set a two-parent family with two children back between €121 and €160 a week. Stock Image: Getty Images/Caiaimage
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Low-income households are being forced to spend more than a third of their weekly budget to eat a healthy well-balanced diet, a new study has revealed.

It costs up to €160 a week to make good shopping choices, according to a report by All Ireland advice group Safefood.

A basket of nutritious food will set a two-parent family with two children back between €121 and €160 a week.

The research found a one-parent household with two children will spend €101.

A pensioner will have an outlay of €64 a week before they start paying other bills.

"This study confirms the stark choices that low-income households have to make, spending in some cases up to one-third of their weekly take-home income in order to purchase a minimum acceptable standard of food, while also meeting their nutrition and social needs," Safefood chief executive Ray Dolan said.

Families on a low-income tend to eat less well, have poorer health outcomes with higher levels of obesity and the complications that come with that.

Dr Bernadette MacMahon of the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice, which carried out the research, said the study was based on menus from these households.

"While some food prices may have fallen slightly since our first food basket report last year, low-income consumers continue to struggle to afford a healthy, balanced diet," she said.

"Food poverty is complex. It affects those living on low incomes, with limited access to transport and poor cooking skills, while others in the same situation have a healthy diet in spite of these obstacles.

"In trying to make a limited household budget go further by compromising on healthy foods, some households are ending up nutritionally poor."

The results of the food survey show that an adolescent costs as much to feed as an adult.

The food basket was chosen by the participants themselves.

It included occasions such as birthdays or meals for visitors.

Irish Independent

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