Related work

The diet cost and affordability metrics used in the Food Prices for Nutrition build on a long tradition of least-cost diets. Here, we highlight some of the most recent work using methods most similar to those of the Food Prices for Nutrition project. These publications are authored by our colleagues around the world, comprised of researchers, practitioners and government officials outside of the Food Prices for Nutrition team, representing useful real-world applications of this ongoing work. This is a vibrant and growing area of research, and we look forward to hearing from and sharing the work of new investigators and other colleagues interested in this domain. 

Cost of a healthy (recommended) diet

  • Mekonnen et al. (2021) estimated the affordability of healthy diets in Nigeria in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.
  • Gupta et al. (2021) explore the cost of the EAT-Lancet diet in rural India in Global Food Security.
  • Dizon, Wang, and Mulmi (2021) estimated the cost of a recommended diet in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal in a World Bank working paper, complementing previous work by Dizon, Herforth and Wang (2019) on the cost of recommended diets in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Afghanistan as well as Bangladesh. Dizon and Wang (2021) provide additional detail on the cost of a recommended diet in India.
  • WFP (2020) uses a “basic plate” approach to compare food costs around the world, noting that this single meal is not a complete diet.

Cost of nutrient adequacy

  • Omiat and Shively (2017) demonstrated the potential of least-cost nutrient adequate diets to track temporal and spatial variation using locally-available price data in Uganda.
  • Allen (2017) demonstrated the use of least-cost nutrient adequate diets as a metric of basic needs for poverty measurement, using internationally comparable prices worldwide.
  • Moatsos (2021) uses a version of this method to track long term historical trends in access to a nutrient-adequate diet.
  • WFP (2020) uses customized least-cost diets for each population to target nutrition assistance

Underlying the cost of a healthy diet metric is food price data, often collected by national statistical agencies. This price data is often collected for the purpose of calculating a country’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), and therefore includes commonly consumed foods. Expanded food lists which incorporate foods from different food groups are crucial to accurately estimating a least-cost diet that meets food-based dietary guidelines. Here are some examples of how food prices an from expanded food list can generate insights about the cost of nutritious foods and diets:

  • The Ghana Statistical Service generates monthly Consumer Price Index newsletters, which report statistics using the food list based on cost of a healthy diet food groups. This was made possible by data collected by the Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), in collaboration with IANDA, to expand the list of foods for which price data is collected.
  • The World Food Programme and IANDA demonstrated the importance of the expanded food list and food groups on least-cost diet estimations, as explained in this detailed report.

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