Low-carbohydrate, Healthy-fat Eating: A Cost Comparison With National Dietary Guidelines
Zinn, C; North, S; Donovan, K; Muir, C; Henderson, G
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Aim: A low-carbohydrate, healthy-fat (LCHF) dietary approach has been demonstrated as an effective strategy for improving metabolic health; however, it is often criticised for being more expensive than following a dietary approach guided by the national, Ministry of Health nutrition guidelines. This study compared the cost of these two nutritionally replete dietary approaches for one day for a family of four. Methods: In this descriptive case study, one-day meal plans were designed for a hypothetical family of four representing the average New Zealand (NZ) male and female weight-stable adult and two adolescent children. National documented heights, a healthy body mass index range (18.5–25.0 kg/m 2 ), and a 1.7-activity factor was used to estimate total energy requirements using the Schofield equation. Total daily costs were compared based on food prices from a popular Auckland supermarket. Meal plans were analysed for their nutritional adequacy using FoodWorks 8 dietary analysis software against national Australian and NZ nutrient reference value thresholds. Results: The total daily costs were $43.42 (national guidelines) and $51.67 (LCHF) representing an $8.25 difference, or $2.06 per person, with the LCHF meal plan being the costlier option. Conclusions: We consider this increased cost for an LCHF approach to be negligible. In practice, less costly food items with similar nutrition qualities can be substituted to reduce costs further should this be a goal. The LCHF approach should therefore not be disregarded as a viable dietary approach for improving health outcomes, based on its perceived expense.