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The costs of dietary treatment

Economic evaluation of dietary treatment
Multi-generation family talking in kitchen
© Getty Images
It’s a common belief that healthy diets are more expensive.

This is one of the most common barriers to healthy eating.

Research tells a different story. During the SMILES trial, researchers conducted a detailed cost analysis of 20 participants before and after dietary changes to estimate the affordability of a healthier diet. The result was that the healthy diet cost less than the low quality diet.

This estimation showed that before the dietary change, participants spent on average AUD$138 each on food and beverages per week. In contrast, the recommended ModiMed diet cost AUD$112 per week, delivering savings of AUD$26 per week per person. It is important to note that the costing was conducted in a metropolitan area of Australia; therefore the results may not apply to other regions of Australia or the world. Despite this, the results show encouraging outcomes for eating well on a budget.

Two factors will ensure that healthy dietary change is affordable: knowledge and preparation.

Consider the following example:

  • An average price of dinner for one at one of the take-away-type restaurants in a metropolitan area of Australia is approximately AUD$12-$15
  • A home-cooked dinner using the attached costed recipe (see ‘Downloads’ below) is approximately AUD$3.00 per serve.

Your task

Take a moment to think about your food expenses. You might like to consider any of the following questions to guide your reflection.

  • What are the main factors that determine how much you may spend on food?

Discuss your thoughts with other learners and take time to read comments from your peers to explore different opinions.

© Deakin University
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