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Soaring food prices forcing people to change their diets, warns Oxfam

Food inflation is forcing people to change their eating habits, according to a survey carried out on behalf of charity Oxfam.

At the Belfast launch of Grow, Oxfam's new campaign to ensure everyone has enough to eat, the charity said more than half of people surveyed in an international poll were not eating the same food as they were two years ago. Of 16,000 people polled in 17 countries, 39% blamed the rising price of food for changing their eating habits.

In Kenya, nearly 80% of people who had changed their diet said it was because of the rising price of food.

The campaign comes ahead of a meeting in France of agriculture ministers from the G20 countries, where they are expected to discuss the global food price crisis.

Nearly half of people surveyed in the UK said they had changed their diet, with 41% pointing to the rising cost of food as their reason for doing so.

Jim Clarken, chief executive of Oxfam Ireland, said: "Our diets are changing fast and for too many people it is a change for the worst. Huge numbers of people, especially in the world's poorest countries, are cutting back on the quantity or quality of the food they eat because of rising food prices.

"World leaders - especially leaders of the powerful G20 countries - must act now to fix our broken food system."

Yesterday's consumer prices index in the UK revealed price increases for nearly all types of food, with meat up 5.1% in the past year and bread up 5.8%.