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NHS scheme to provide more healthy foods for low-income families is working, according to new study

24 May 2018

The UK Healthy Start Scheme, which sees 450,000 families receive vouchers worth £3.10 per week per child, is working, according to new research.

The findings come at a time when nearly two-thirds of adults (63%) in England were classed as being overweight or obese in 2015, according to government statistics.

Using scanner data that records all grocery purchases families take home, the researchers compared grocery baskets before and after the introduction of the scheme for families that were eligible, compared to those for families that were ineligible, and found that eligible households were spending an extra £2.43 on fresh fruit and vegetables each month – that’s a rise of 15 per cent.

The study highlights the importance of the scheme for low-income families, and was conducted by the Department of Economics, the University of Manchester and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Dr Stephanie von Hinke, Reader in Economics and co-author of the latest research, said: "Here is evidence of a scheme that actually works and has increased spending on fruit and vegetables among a group of households that arguably need it the most.”

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