Food cost and availability in a rural setting in Australia
Burns, Cate, Gibbon, P., Boak, R., Baudinette, S. and Dunbar, James 2004, Food cost and availability in a rural setting in Australia, Rural and remote health : the international electronic journal of rural and remote health research, education, practice and policy, vol. 4, no. 311, pp. 1-9.
Introduction: The burden of chronic diseases is rapidly increasing worldwide. In Australia rural populations have a greater burden of disease. Chronic diseases are largely preventable with diet as a key risk factor. With respect to diet-related chronic disease, dietary risk may be due to poor food access, namely, poor availability and/or the high cost of healthy food. It is likely that poor food access is an issue in rural areas. Objective: To assess food access in rural south-west (SW) Victoria, Australia.
Methods: A total of 53 supermarkets and grocery stores in 42 towns participated in a survey of food cost and availability in the rural area of SW Victoria. The survey assessed availability and cost of a Healthy Food Access Basket (HFAB) which was designed to meet the nutritional needs of a family of 6 for 2 weeks.
Results: Seventy-two percent of the eligible shops in SW Victoria were surveyed. The study found that the complete HFAB was significantly more likely to be available in a town with a chain-owned store (p<0.00). The complete HFAB was less likely to be available from an independently owned store in a town with only one grocery shop (p<0.004). The average cost of the HFAB across SW Victoria was AU$380.30 ± $25.10 (mean ± SD). There was a mean range in difference of cost of the HFAB of $36.92. In particular, high variability was found in the cost of fruits and vegetables.
Conclusions: Cost and availability of healthy food may be compromised in rural areas. Implications: Improvements in food access in rural areas could reduce the high burden of disease suffered by rural communities.
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