LATAM population struggles to afford nutritious diet, study finds

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The EAT–Lancet reference diet is unaffordable for an estimated 1.58 billion people around the world, as its cost outpaces the minimum amount required to achieve nutrient adequacy. Latin America and the Caribbean witnesses the highest median cost per day, out of anywhere around the world, at $3.42.

In the first global benchmark diet of its kind “capable of sustaining health and protecting the planet”​, The EAT–Lancet Commission was asked to create a universal reference diet in a bid to develop a food system that offers better health for the world’s population.

Study results

Using retail price data collected under the International Comparison Program, Hirvonen et al (2019) conducted Affordability of the EAT–Lancet reference diet: a global ​analysis, to find the varying cost of foods required for healthy and sustainable diets.

The study’s researchers analyzed both food prices and household income data to identify the most affordable foods to meet the EAT–Lancet targets, before comparing the total cost per day of the diet and align it with each country’s mean per capita household income.

From these figures, the researchers could then calculate the number of people that would struggle to embark on and sustain the suggested diet.

Finally, the study then compared local country costs of EAT–Lancet reference diets to the lower-cost foods that, when formed as part of a daily diet, featured sufficient levels of 20 essential nutrients.

Taking all of these considerations and measures into account, the study’s researchers formed the EAT–Lancet reference diet. The study shows that the most affordable EAT–Lancet diets cost a global median of $2.84 per day.

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