Sticking to a healthy diet may be cheaper than eating junk food, according to research by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).
The new findings are contrary to the popular belief that healthy eating is expensive, while junk food is relatively cheap. Furthermore, the findings also cast doubt on the common assumption that poor diets and obesity are directly linked to economic deprivation.
The IEA looked at two leading supermarkets in the UK, examining food under two separate methodologies, comparing similar healthy and unhealthy foods and comparing products by edible weight.
The similar products were found almost identical in price, with comparisons made with baked beans, soft drinks, milk and bread. Some healthy options were more expensive, such as lean mince and brown rice, but others were cheaper, with low-fat breakfast cereals and yoghurt given as examples.
However, when food was measured by edible weight, there were significant differences, as healthier options tended to be cheaper than junk food. A wide range of fruit and vegetable options could be purchased at under £2 per kilogram, while less healthy products, such as ready-meals, chocolate and crisps, tended to cost more than £3 per kilogram. Five portions of fruit and vegetables each day could be met for as little as 30p.
The report suggests that consumers in the UK are more likely to be driven by taste and convenience rather than cost when purchasing food.