Cost of food is making us all unhealthy
There’s a recession on isn’t there. Apparently things have got so bad that people can’t even afford to eat properly anymore. That’s right- private healthcare provider PruHealth has done some researching and has discovered that more than one in five Brits (22%) are eating less healthily owing to the rising cost of living.
The study, which ran at the start of the financial downturn in 2008 and again in March this year, found that the continuing rise in cost of living means that an equivalent of 10.6 million people across the country are not eating as healthily as they would like to and over half (52%) believe their health has suffered as a result of the recession. Since 2008, 75% of people say they have changed their eating and shopping habits with 85% of these naming the recession and or rising food prices as the cause for the change.
So why the change in shopping habits? Well, over two thirds (68%) of respondents think healthier food is more expensive than less healthy alternatives. One in six (16%) people are buying as much as they can that is 'reduced to clear' and one in ten (11%) only buy foods that are on special offer. Around one in four (24%) say they regularly take vitamin supplements because they are unable to eat as healthily as they like.
But is this true? Nutritionists would argue that it is cheaper, and better for you to prepare your own food from scratch, rather than buying ready meals or pre-prepared foods. One banana costs 20p from ASDA, but a Mars bar costs 49p. However, 1kg of ASDA Smart price chips work out at 55p, while a 1kg bag of ASDA Smart Price potatoes are a whopping 59p. And they’re not even peeled.
So there may be cases where it is cheaper to be less healthy. But what about food prices? Food inflation has been bringing up the overall inflation rate for months, and in March, the rate of food inflation alone was at an 18 month high of 5.4%. New figures from the British Retail Consortium show that the rate has now fallen to 4.3% in April, but they warn that further inflationary pressures could be around the corner, including record global prices for soyabean. Mostly seen in pre-prepared and processed foods. And soy sauce.
Dr Dawn Richards, Head of Clinical Service at PruHealth, commented: "We can clearly see how people's healthy eating habits have been affected, with the picture having got significantly worse since the start of the economic downturn. People are only too well aware of the need to eat healthily, but financial constraints are making it difficult, resulting in people's health being negatively affected."
PruHealth, like all health insurance providers, does have a vested interest in keeping you well- after all, they would much rather you paid your premiums while bounding around in rude health, costing them nothing in medical bills. However, if you are that way inclined, PruHealth do offer a points scheme to get savings on doing healthy things (like joining a gym) and give you discounts on unrelated products. Like mobile phones. They even claim you could get more in discounts than your premium costs. They may also cover you if you are uninsurable by other insurers, by offering a moratorium- a period (eg 2 years) where you pay your premiums but you aren’t covered for certain pre-existing conditions.
Or you could save yourself the money, stop eating chips, and live next door to your local NHS hospital instead.