Spanish Study Shows Spending More Money on Food Often Leads to Healthier Eating Choices

Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 people in 2000 and again in 2009

Flickr / Barn Images / CC0 1.0

Findings emphasize need for policy to promote accessible healthy options for all income levels. 

A Spanish study, which published its findings in the British Journal of Nutrition, investigated the association between diet quality and the amount of money spent on food. The researchers surveyed over 2,000 people in 2000 and again in 2009, recording diet information and vital statistics, according to Food And Drink Europe. Vital statistics included height, weight, BMI, and activity level. From there, costs of the subjects’ dietary choices were calculated using food price databases and other research.

The study authors concluded, “An increase in the energy-adjusted diet cost predicted a shift to a heathier diet and to better weight management. Diet quality strongly increased when money previously spent on unhealthy food choices such as fast food and pastry was instead spent on vegetables and fruits.” Overall, the cost difference between the high-quality and low-quality diets among participants was €2.95 ($3.21 USD) per day, or €1076 ($1170 USD) a year.


The authors say this price difference might negatively influence healthy food choices, particularly in low-income families. They write, “This finding is of importance for health policy because it underlines the need to promote healthy diets that are accessible for all income levels, with implications for food pricing, agricultural and consumer subsidy programmes and tax policies.” Over the study period, prices of healthy foods in Spain rose faster than prices of unhealthy foods.