Dietary health in the context of poverty and uncertainty around the social determinants of health
Lower household income has been consistently associated with poorer diet quality and poorer dietary health outcomes. Households experiencing poverty find themselves unable to afford enough food, and the food that they can afford is often poor quality, energy dense and low in nutrients. However, the relationship between diet, poverty, and health is complex. Not everyone on a low income has a poor diet. Poverty is about more than low incomes and it is not a uniform experience. Particular aspects of the experience of poverty have implications for diet and dietary health. It is increasingly apparent that uncertainty is one of those aspects. Recession, welfare policy, employment trends, and widening inequality have created more uncertainty for those on low incomes. In the context of heightened uncertainty, all aspects of household food provisioning – including budgeting, shopping, storage, meal planning, and cooking – are more difficult and sometimes impossible. This review will draw on research about food practices and dietary health in low-income neighbourhoods to explore the ways in which experiences of prolonged uncertainty shape dietary practices and impact on health and wellbeing.