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Surging food prices impacting shoppers mental health

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food prices Shopping in a Whole Foods Market supermarket in New York on Sunday, June 18, 2023. Goldman Sachs analysts reported that inflation in the US, while continuing its decline, will not cool as quickly as expected.  (© Richard B. Levine)

Three in 10 women said their mental health had worsened as a result of soaring food prices. Photo: PA/Alami

Soaring food prices are having a negative impact on the mental health of shoppers, with rising food costs impacting sleep, diet and overall physical health.

The increased price of everyday groceries has worsened the mental health of a quarter (25%) of people, according to a study by consumer group Which?.

One person told Which?: “It’s a black cloud that never goes away.” Another said: “I’m living day to day.”

Some 23% said that rising food prices had 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.

Three in 10 women (30%) said their mental health had worsened as a result of soaring food prices.

Elena, a mum of two from Merseyside, told Which? her mental health has suffered because the price of baby formula has increased.

Read more: UK households paying an extra £833 on groceries as food inflation remains high

She told Which?: “My baby has reflux and yet we can’t afford to buy the anti-reflux baby milk. It’s gone up from £11.50 in 2021 to £14. If your body doesn’t produce milk it isn’t a choice — you shouldn’t have to pay a premium for something which is a necessity.Thinking about it brings me to tears.

“I didn’t have babies until I was financially stable. We should be doing well but instead we are looking at an uncertain future. We have worked very hard for what we have and I feel so angry that we and other families are not being looked after — our best interests are not being looked after. That all builds and builds and I feel like a pressure cooker waiting to explode.”

A third of people aged 35 to 54 — those most likely to be parents of young families — said food costs had a negative impact on their mental health.

They are more likely to be negatively affected than those aged 18 to 35 (27%) and over 55 (18%).

Read more: Inflation: Food prices continue to jump causing ‘agony’ for UK shoppers

Official figures last week showed that food inflation slowed from 19.1% in April to 18.4% in May after hitting a 45-year high in March.

which? head of food policy Sue Davies said: “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.”

Watch: Grocery inflation eases to ‘slowest monthly rate this year’

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