4 million children in UK too poor to have healthy diet

4 million children in UK too poor to have healthy diet |‌ Photo: health

Almost 4 million children in the UK live in households that would struggle to afford to buy enough fruit, vegetables, fish and other healthy foods to meet the official nutrition guidelines, a groundbreaking food poverty study was quoted by the Guardian.

The research carried out by the Food Foundation think tank, pointed out that the decreasing ability of low-income families to pay for healthy food is consigning the least well-off to a greater risk of diet-related illness, such as obesity and diabetes, as well as widening health inequalities across society.

“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,” said Anna Taylor, the executive director of the Food Foundation.

The report, according to the source, said that the poorest fifth of families would have to set aside more than 40% of their total weekly income after housing costs to fulfill the requirements of the government’s Eatwell guide.

Moreover, the report has called on ministers to increase welfare benefit payments and ensure healthy foods are made more widely available and affordable to low-income households, for instance through maternity food vouchers and universal free school meals.

The Food Foundation also underscored in its study, which is the first investigation into the extent to which typical UK households can afford to follow the guidelines, that a family of two adults and two children aged 10 and 15 would need to spend £103.17 a week on the food.

The study estimates that 47% of all UK households with children do not spend enough on food to meet the Eatwell cost targets, a proportion that rises to 60% for single parent families.

The study comes as concerns rise about food insecurity (defined as an inability to afford to eat regularly or healthily) among the poorest households.

Income in poor households decreased by 7.1% between 2002 and 2016, the study says, while food prices rose by 7.7%. It says further price rises, triggered for example by Brexit-related fluctuations in the value of the pound.