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New Research Shows, The Affordability of More Nutritious Foods Is an Essential Factor

Poor diets are the now the chief risk factor for the global freight of disease, accounting for one-fifth of all deaths worldwide. Whereas the causes of poor diets are advanced, a new analysis finds that the affordability of more nutritious foods is an essential factor.

A new study by researchers on the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is the first to document that the affordability of both healthy and unhealthy foods varies significantly and systematically around the globe. The study also means that these relative price differences help explain international variations in dietary patterns, child stunting, and overweight predominance amongst adults.

The research, “The relative caloric prices of healthy and unhealthy foods differ systematically throughout income levels and continents,” co-authored by IFPRI’s Headey and Harold Alderman, was published in The Journal of Nutrition. Utilizing national price data for 657 standardized food products in 176 countries collected below The International Comparison Program (ICP), the authors develop a novel measure of how pricey it’s to diversify diets away from traditional calorie-dense staple meals such as bread, corn or rice. The study explains that higher caloric prices of food predict decrease consumption of that food and explores how these price variations would possibly explain international differences in child stunting and adult obesity.

The research finds marked variations within the affordability of each healthy and unhealthy foods across different areas of the world, and at differing levels of growth. In the world’s poorest nations, wholesome foods have been typically extremely costly, especially nutrient-dense animal-sourced foods, which are widely recognized to be efficient in reducing stunting. Eggs and fresh milk, for instance, are sometimes ten instances as expensive as starchy staples. One other ultra-healthy food for kids—specialized toddler cereals fortified with a variety of extra nutrients—are typically 30 times as costly because the nutrient-sparse traditional cereals extra commonly fed to infants.

Though the study found that economic growth tends to make wholesome foods extra affordable, that process also tends to make unhealthy foods cheaper. Sugar-rich soft drinks are comparatively costly in lots of low-income countries but have become cheap and extensively consumed in the middle- and upper-income settings.

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