grocery storeRising grocery prices affect food choices and nutrition, and ultimately health, say health behaviour researchers Sarah Woodruff, Paige Coyne, and Sheldon Fetter.

Higher food costs can affect nutrition and health: researchers

When inflation takes a bite out of grocery budgets, wider consequences follow, say a trio of health behaviour researchers from the Faculty of Human Kinetics.

In an article published in The Conversation, kinesiology professor Sarah Woodruff, doctoral candidate Paige Coyne, and doctoral student Sheldon Fetter discuss how rising grocery prices affect food choices, nutrition, health, and even the health-care system.

“We believe that many Canadians will undoubtedly feel the additional financial pressure at the checkout line, and many will eat less nutritious and cheaper food options.”

They point to research that shows increased household food insecurity is strongly associated with greater strain on the health-care system. People visit doctors and emergency rooms more often, hospital stays are longer, there are more same-day surgeries, greater reliance on home care services, and higher prescription drug use.

Food prices began to soar during the pandemic when supply chain issues, changes in consumer spending patterns, and business closure mandates became problematic. Extreme weather bringing heat waves, flooding, droughts, and freezing, have driven food prices even higher.

“With the rising cost of food, many Canadians are experiencing insecure or limited access to food,” Dr. Woodruff and her research assistants write. “This can have various effects on health, such as a decrease in mental health, increased risk of diabetes, higher rates of autoimmune and infectious diseases, and injuries.”

The writers say higher food costs strain myriad social programs like food banks, school food programs, and more.

—Sarah Sacheli

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