Australians still not switching to healthier diets despite price benefits

Recent analysis from Australia’s Food Environment Dashboard​, a new online tool developed by the Deakin University Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) and the Obesity Policy Coalition, has shown that healthier diets on average cost significantly less than the current diets of most Australians.

The dashboard brought together research from multiple papers published over the past few years for analysis. A healthy diet was defined as that consistent with Australian Dietary Guidelines, and unhealthy foods were defined as discretionary foods according to the guidelines.

In high socioeconomic urban areas, healthier diets were found to be significantly less expensive (18% to 19%) than what consumers are currently eating. This was similar to results from low socioeconomic areas (between 16% and 19%) and even in very remote areas (16% to up to 24%).

But despite the lower costs, the dashboard also found that a majority of consumers are currently spending more on unhealthy food and drinks than healthy items across just about all states and communities. This included Queensland (60% of total food and drink spend is on unhealthy products), Brisbane (58%), Sydney (58%), Canberra (58%), Rural Victoria (60%), Greater Melbourne (60%) and even more so in remote Aboriginal communities (62%).

According to Associate Professor Gary Sacks from GLOBE who was one of the dashboard’s founders, the slow speed of Australian consumers shifting to healthier diets demonstrates that lower costs alone are not a strong enough factor to convince consumers.