The cost of a healthy diet (CoHD) in Nigeria surged by 66.2 percent within a year, according to a new report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The NBS report, titled ‘Cost of Healthy Diet’, in collaboration with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, shows that the national average cost of a healthy diet rose to N786 per day in December 2023 from N473 per day in the same period of 2022.
The CoHD metric assesses the availability, price, and nutritional composition of retail food items to identify the most cost-effective combination meeting the requirements for a healthy diet.
“In the past year, the CoHD and the cost of all other goods and services increased at roughly the same rate, until July 2023, when CoHD increased at a faster rate than all goods and services (general CPI) and more than all foods for which retail prices are collected,” the report said.
It said for instance, where the cost of a healthy diet is high, it is possible to identify which least-cost items and food groups are driving the high cost.
“Stakeholders can identify supply challenges in specific foods or food groups to be addressed, for example with improved production, distribution, or market access,” it said.
According to the NBS, the CoHD is the least expensive combination of locally available items that meets globally consistent food-based dietary guidelines, used as a measure of physical and economic access to healthy diets.
“This is a lower bound (or floor) of the cost per adult per day excluding the cost of transportation and meal preparation. The retail food price data used in this analysis is collected by the NBS monthly from 10,534 informants spread across the country, from urban and rural outlets for each state,” the agency added.
Inflation in Africa’s biggest economy rose to 28.92 percent in December, the highest in two decades, with food inflation, constituting 50 percent of the rate, rising to 33.93 percent.
The NBS report also revealed that Ekiti, Osun and Ondo states recorded the highest cost at N,1052, N1,017, and N986, respectively, while the lowest diet costs were recorded in Katsina, Niger and Adamawa at N594, N635, and N654, respectively.
On a zonal level, the South-West had the highest average CoHD at N979 per day, followed by the South-East at N920 per day.
The North-West zone recorded the lowest average cost of a healthy diet at N663 per day.
Animal source foods were the most expensive food group recommendation to meet in December, accounting for 38 percent of the total CoHD to provide 13 percent of the total calories, according to the report.
“Fruits and vegetables were the most expensive food groups in terms of price per calorie; they accounted for 12 percent and 14 percent, respectively, of total CoHD while providing only 7 percent and 5 percent of total calories in the Healthy Diet Basket,” it said.
It added that the least-expensive food group on average was legumes, nuts, and seeds at six percent of the total cost.