Gareth from the Office: Eating healthy comes at a price

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HOW are people supposed to feed their children and themselves healthy foods when the cost of doughnuts is cheaper than that of fruit and vegetables?

While enjoying a break in picturesque St Ives I was horrified to read that some supermarkets charge less for sugary treats than they do for the healthier alternative.

Now I know supermarkets need to cover their costs but surely with the price of packaging and delivery the unhealthy option would be the more expensive. Wrong.

In some shops a five pack of sugar covered, calorific, ring doughnuts was 70p, with an offer of two packs for £1. At the same shop the cost of five Granny Smith apples was £1.24, almost double the cost before the deal was applied.

The Government is always complaining about the levels of obesity in children and as it stands there are around 28.3 per cent of children in the UK who are considered to be overweight or medically obese.

And it is a hard subject to tackle because children need to take in more energy than they use so they can grow. The growth spurt then usually sees them shed any ‘puppy fat’ they may have, but that is another issue for another time.

So where does the blame lie for obese children? Is it the parents? If you ask any parent they will tell you they will do anything for the safety, health and protection of their children.

But what happens when parents simply can’t afford to buy healthier items for their families? What if the only thing you can afford to buy is cheap ready meals?

In some supermarkets the cost of a lot of fruit and vegetables has risen steeply in the last year. For example, the price of red grapes has risen 14 per cent, the cost of broccoli and lettuce 16 and 17 per cent respectively and cabbage prices have rocketed by 34 per cent.

Everyone needs to have access to fresh fruit and vegetables, and the sweet treats as well. I’m not saying that cakes and other nice things should be completely avoided but parents need to be able to feed their children the healthy stuff as well.

A balanced diet is easy, but only if you can afford the costs of the goods to make it so.

Supermarkets need to see that they can be a part of the solution, not the problem. If they make fruits and vegetables readily available then more children can get their five a day, the statistics for obese and overweight children can be lowered and the government will have to think of a new way to put fear into the British public.

The way things are going the only thing I can see increasing by five a day is the number of children diagnosed as being obese…surely the government doesn’t want that on its conscience?