Cost of healthy food causes financial stress for Aussie families: study

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 13, 2017
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SYDNEY, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Low income and welfare dependent families are struggling to afford healthy food, a new Australian study revealed on Wednesday.

The survey conducted by Curtin University in Western Australian, showed that in some instances, those on welfare had to fork out 50 percent of their budget, in order to eat healthily.

"We looked at the cost of food in Western Australia and we measured 430 foods that would make up a reasonably healthy food basket," co-author Dr. Christina Pollard explained to Xinhua.

The team then compared the prices of those food baskets as a proportion of household income.

"For families on an average income, the proportion of income required to buy a food basket was 14 percent," Pollard said.

"But for low income families, it's around the 25 percent mark and for families on welfare, they would need to spend almost half their income to follow a healthy meal plan."

The findings came as deliberation on changes to the State's goods and services tax (GST) are being considered by the government.

At the moment "basic foods" and "healthy foods" are currently excluded from the tax and Pollard hopes the study will help highlight the need for the exemption to stay in place.

"People on low income and welfare dependent families would be likely to be the hardest hit in terms of food stress if there were changes to the GST exemption on food," she said.

As it became more difficult for families to afford healthier options, particularly for single parent households and those in Australia's isolated rural communities, Pollard suggested that there are a number of approaches that could be considered as a way alleviate the growing health issue.

"The opportunity to further subsidize healthy foods and increase tax on unhealthy foods does exist," she said.

"For example, many countries around the world are looking at taxing high sugar soft drinks and using the money generated by that revenue to promote healthier eating." Enditem

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