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Healthy diet cost in Brunei among highest in ASEAN

Azlan Othman

A healthy diet in the Sultanate has been ranked the second most expensive in Southeast Asia, according to a new set of indicators released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The daily cost in Brunei is USD4.41 per person based on purchasing power parity-exchange rates that equal currency buying powers by removing differences in prices between countries, according to the report.

Indonesia has the highest cost (USD4.47) followed by Brunei, Thailand (USD4.32), Myanmar (USD4.19), Laos (USD4.14), the Philippines (USD4.11) and Vietnam (USD4.07).

Cambodia’s daily cost is USD3.89, followed by Malaysia (USD3.54). The cost is the lowest in Singapore (USD3.06).

The report said diet quality is a critical link between food security and nutrition.

Poor diet quality can lead to different forms of malnutrition, including undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, as well as overweight and obesity.

The effects of inflation in consumer food prices stemming from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to contain it have increased the costs and the unaffordability of a healthy diet around the world.

File photo shows a woman selling vegetables at a tamu. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD HAZIQ ABD HAMID
File photo shows fruit and vegetables at a trader’s market stall in London, United Kingdom. PHOTO: AFP

In 2020, the sharp increase in global consumer food prices in the second half of the year translated directly into an increased average cost of a healthy diet at the global level, and for all regions and almost all sub-regions in the world.

The average cost of a healthy diet globally in 2020 was USD3.54 per person per day; 3.3 per cent more than in 2019 and 6.7 per cent more than in 2017.

Latin America and the Caribbean had the highest cost of a healthy diet compared to other regions, at USD3.89 per person per day in 2020, followed by Asia (USD3.72), Africa (USD3.46), Northern America and Europe (USD3.19) and Oceania (USD 3.07).

Between 2019 and 2020, Asia witnessed the highest surge in the cost of a healthy diet (four per cent), followed by Oceania (3.6 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (3.4 per cent), Northern America and Europe (3.2 per cent) and Africa (2.5 per cent).

Almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020 – an increase of 112 million people than in 2019, reflecting the higher costs of a healthy diet in 2020.

This was mainly driven by Asia, where 78 million more people were unable to afford this diet, followed by Africa (25 million more people), and to a lesser extent by Latin America and the Caribbean (eight million more people) and Northern America and Europe (one million more people).

The cost of a healthy diet will likely continue to rise as food prices have surged in 2021, and into 2022, but data are not fully available to provide estimates.

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