Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Education

No need to fork out a fortune

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/sbmj.02029 (Published 01 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:02029
  1. Frankie Robinson, British Nutrition Foundation1
  1. 1London

In the fifth article in our series on nutrition, Frankie Robinson gives some tips on how you can eat healthily on a tight budget

Many factors influence what people choose to eat, in particular taste. The cost of food is also a determining factor when people make food choices. When money is scarce it is often the amount spent on food which is reduced first as it is a more elastic item in the budget than other items such as rent or fuel. People with low incomes often spend less money on food, but the amount spent is usually a greater proportion of their total budget. As a consequence, those on low incomes often eat a narrower range of foods than those with higher incomes and this can affect the quality of their diet. For example, lower consumption of fruit and vegetables may be one of the dietary factors predisposing those struggling on a low income to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Lack of knowledge is not necessarily the problem; the cost of “healthier” food items such as wholemeal bread, lean meat, and fruit and vegetables is perceived to be over and above what the budget would allow.

For some people, including students, having a low income may be only a transient situation. Nevertheless, even for a few years the consequences of eating a poor diet can mount up, and a poor diet may even affect ability to concentrate on work and fight recurrent infections. This article focuses on how to eat well on a student grant and gives useful hints and tips on how to stretch the elastic of your food budget.

Basic messages apply

The virtues of eating a balanced diet has been one of the most consistent nutrition messages for decades, and although the message is not …

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