A healthy diet consistent with Australian health recommendations is too expensive for welfare-dependent families

Christine Kettings, Andrew J. Sinclair, Melanie Voevodin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Examine the cost of healthy food habits for welfare-dependent families in Australia. Method: A seven-day meal plan was developed, based on Australian public health recommendations, for two typical welfare-dependent families: a couple-family (two adults, two children) and a one-parent family (one adult, two children). The cost of the meal plan was calculated using market brand and generic brand grocery items, and total cost compared to income. Results: In Australia, the cost of healthy food habits uses about 40% of the disposable income of welfare-dependent families. Families earning an average income would spend only 20% of their disposable income to buy the same healthy food. Substituting generic brands for market brands reduced the weekly food cost by about 13%. This is one of few economic models to include generic brands. Conclusion: Compared with average-income Australian families, healthy food habits are a fiscal challenge to welfare-dependent families. Implications: These results provide a benchmark for economic and social policy analysis, and the influence disposable income has on prioritising healthy food habits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-572
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Australian dietary guidelines
  • Food cost
  • Food security
  • Low-income family

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