Healthy eating belongs to everyone

 

Sir, – A recent study found that when participants were asked to evaluate a food product with a positive health claim, their willingness to believe the claim was significantly lower when the product cost less than average. So strongly are we influenced by lay theories concerning “the price of health” that we are reluctant to believe that a healthy option can be affordable.

High diet quality and health rating and affordability are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Healthy eating does not have to be expensive, and expensive eating is not always healthy. If meaningful changes in global food consumption are to be made, we need to stop assuming that healthy eating is by definition inaccessible to the poor and somehow reserved only for the better-off.

It is, of course, important to recognize the struggles and barriers to eating healthy, which do disproportionately affect the people in the lowest income groups. Food availability, time, cooking skills, food environment, transportation, food habits, and preferences are all important. These factors will not magically disappear once we recognise the possible cost-effectiveness of a healthful diet, but in order to overcome them, we need to start from a place of confidence, a sense of self-efficacy, dignity and ownership. Healthy eating belongs to everyone. And it can be valued by everyone. – Yours, etc,

CORIN PANTON,

LAURA BATTERSBY,

ANDREW NGUYEN,

KRISZTINA KATONA,

BRITTA TALUMAA,

Belfield, Dublin 4.