Some 3.7 million children in the UK are living in households that are too poor to afford a healthy diet, a new report has revealed.
The analysis by the Food Foundation found that Britain’s poorest 20 percent of families would have to spend 42 percent of their after-housing income on fruit, vegetables and other foods to meet the government’s guidelines on eating well.
That’s almost four times what the country’s richest families need to cash out for healthy foods, according to the report.
In its online guide dubbed “Eatwell,” the British government recommends eating five portions of fruits and vegetables.
“The government’s measurement of household income highlights the fact that millions of families in the UK cannot afford to eat in line with the government’s own dietary guidance,” said Anna Taylor, executive director of the Food Foundation, in a statement.
One way to solve the problem is for the government to increase benefit payments while also giving free healthy meals in all schools, the report suggested.
Mothers on lower incomes also needed to be assisted by the government through food vouchers.
“It cannot be right that 50% of households in the UK currently have insufficient food budgets to meet the government’s recommended Eatwell Guide. A healthy diet, which we know is important for our health and development, should not be unaffordable to so many people,” lawmaker Sharon Hodgson, chair of the Children’s Future Food Inquiry committee, said in a statement.
The report comes as students in British schools are ready to return to their classes after a six-week summer break that has contributed to families’ “holiday hunger” problems.