SDG 2 calls for ending hunger and achieving nutrition security for all through increased access to healthy diets. Today, 3.1 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet – that is 40 percent of the global population. But what is a healthy diet and how much does it cost?
A healthy diet goes beyond just the consumption of sufficient calories. It meets the nutritional standards set by national dietary guidelines, with sufficient diversity and quantity within and between food groups to achieve nutrient adequacy and protection against diet-related diseases.
To measure access and affordability of a healthy diet, the Food Prices for Nutrition project has computed their costs for each country by using the least expensive locally available items in each food group, such as fruits, vegetables, starchy staples, animal-source foods, legumes, nuts, seeds, as well as oils and fats.
The cost of different types of food varies. Many nutritious foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and animal-source foods are unaffordable in some areas. By contrast, energy-dense processed foods and drinks that are high in fat, sugar, and/or salt but nutrient-deficient are often cheaper and more readily available.
How much is spent on each food group varies across and within regions. Generally, animal-source foods, vegetables, and fruits are the most expensive. Animal-source foods in Sub-Saharan Africa can vary from 15 percent of the total cost, as in Guinea, to 41 percent, as in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The vegetable cost share in Europe and Central Asia ranges from 11 percent in Belarus to 34 percent in Norway.
Explore the cost share of each food group in a least-cost healthy diet for each country in this interactive chart of the 2023 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals. The total cost in the receipt shows the cheapest option available for consuming a healthy diet in the selected country.
To learn more about where we stand in our efforts to end hunger, including who can and cannot afford a healthy diet, look at the data stories and visualizations of the second story of the Atlas.