Four Million Children in the UK Cannot Afford to have a Healthy Diet

A recent study has shown that four million children in the UK are “too poor” to be able to eat a healthy diet.

A shocking study has shown that around four million children come from homes where being able to afford enough healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables in order to meet the official nutrition guidelines is a struggle.

Food Foundation has stated that the fact that several families on low-incomes cannot afford basic healthy food condemns the poor to having a higher risk of health issues relating to diets, including diabetes and obesity.

If the least-well off families were to even try to meet the requirements of the government’s Eatwell guide, they would have to part with over 40% of their weekly income; and that is excluding the cost of housing.

Those who carried out the research have asked that ministers increase welfare benefits and make sure that healthy foods be more accessible. It has been suggested that this is done perhaps through methods such as maternity food vouchers and free school meals.

Anna Taylor – executive director of Food Foundation – commented on the issue:

“The government’s measurement of household income highlights the fact that millions of families in the UK cannot afford to eat in line with the government’s own dietary guidance. It’s crucial that a coordinated cross-government effort develops policy that accounts for the cost of its recommended diet and creates a food system that does not consign those on lower incomes to the risk of diet related illness.”

The study reckons that 47% of all UK households with children fail to spend enough on food to meet the Eatwell cost targets, an amount that reaches 60% for single parent families. The study also estimates that only a meagre 20% of households in which the main earner is unemployed spends the suggested amount.

A case study was also completed to show the reality of this issue.

Elaine, 41, a married mother of four, says:

“I really try, and my kids eat well, but how we are eating is not how I would really like them to eat”

Elaine’s weekly household food budget is £50 to £60 a week, although, the Food Foundation states that in order to meet the government guidelines on healthy eating, she should be spending £131.28.

The ex-nursery nurse spends £8 a week on fruit, primarily apples, oranges and bananas, and looks out for low-cost vegetables at her local Aldi and Tesco shops. With her tight budget, she is now used to working with little resources at mealtimes and, sometimes, she even goes without meals so that her children can eat.

  • By Emma Logan, Editor of Wellbeing
  • Sources: The Guardian

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