Many people say their mental health has deteriorated because of high food prices adding to the cost of living crisis in the UK.
Food prices soaring
Soaring food prices are harming the mental health of shoppers and families, according to a study by consumer group, Which?.
The rising cost of everyday groceries has worsened the mental health of a quarter (25%) of people, the survey suggests. Some 23% say prices have hindered their ability to eat a healthy diet, while 22% said they had lost sleep over food costs, and one in five said their physical health had deteriorated.
It comes as new figures suggest food inflation may finally have peaked – although price rises remain at historically high levels.
Stress despite inflation easing
Food inflation decelerated for a second consecutive month to 14.6% in June, down from 15.4% in May, according to the BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index. Overall, shop price inflation slowed to 8.4%, down from 9% in May.
MPs are preparing to question senior figures from Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco, and Asda on Tuesday about when shoppers can expect to see prices fall. The business committee is also expected to scrutinize the gross profits of the big supermarket chains over claims of profiteering
The impact on mental health
A third of people aged 35 to 54 – those most likely to be parents of young families – said food costs had had a negative impact on their mental health. They were more likely to be negatively affected than those aged 18 to 35 (27%) and over 55 (18%).
The consumer organization’s head of food policy, Sue Davies, said,
“Which? research shows how the sustained stress and worry caused by rising food prices is now having a detrimental impact on people’s mental and physical health. Women and young parents are among the worst affected, and some people struggling to feed their children are asking themselves how much more of this they can take.
Now is the time to act. The government must urgently get supermarkets to commit to stocking essential budget ranges in all their stores, particularly in areas where people are most in need, as well as make pricing much clearer so shoppers can compare prices and find the best value products.”
Trade-offs being made
As the cost of living has progressed over recent months, many sections of society have been faced to make difficult decisions about how they will pay their bills. With energy and mortgage priers also rising month-on-month, and with a fixed pot of income to pay these bills, the pressure on household economies is greater than ever.
It is no wonder, therefore, that the stress and anxiety caused by the daily struggle to pay bills are rising as a result. With a health system that is struggling to cope and with waiting times for professional mental health support getting longer, many forecast that the breaking point where the system falls over is not too far away.
The results of the Which? survey, therefore, come as no surprise as we all are forced to find creative and sometimes desperate ways to pay our bills and feed families.
Is the price of food affecting your mental health? Are you doing anything to reduce your stress levels? Tell us more in the comments.