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3/10 students have gone hungry instead of buying food

22nd January 2015

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30% of students admit that they’ve gone hungry in order to avoid buying food whilst the majority are also shunning restaurants and takeaways because they’re too expensive, according to our research.

When asked if they had ever gone hungry instead of spending money on food, a worrying 30% of those questioned confirmed that they had, either “occasionally” or “often”.

Along with Bacofoil, we questioned 693 UK students about their eating habits – and the results that came back were fairly surprising.

The main findings of our survey are:

  • 30% of students have “occasionally” or “often” gone hungry instead of buying food
  • 23% can only afford to buy healthy food “occasionally”
  • 33% of those who don’t believe themselves to have a healthy diet say this is because it’s too expensive
  • 40% are bothered by the price of healthy food
  • 56% have found buying fresh food a monetary issue
  • 89% cook for themselves at least twice every week
  • 91% would eat in restaurants more often if there were more discounts or if it was cheaper

40% said that the price of healthy food bothered them, although they could afford to buy it, whilst 23% could only afford to buy healthy food “occasionally” and 16% would rather save their money than stock up on healthy produce.

But far from carb-loading and gorging on grease in order to save money, a massive 85% spend less than £20 per week on takeaways - which suggests that students are winning the battle against late night pizza and the craving for post-night out burgers.

Instead of eating out and paying hefty restaurant bills, 55% of students cook for themselves every day, whilst a further 34% do so between twice and five times per week.

When students are shunning eating out in restaurants, it’s mainly because of the price. A massive 80% eat out less than one a fortnight (and 56% less than once a month), but 91% said that they would definitely, probably or maybe do so more often if there were bigger student discounts or if food was cheaper. Only 7% said that cheaper menus and better discounts wouldn’t encourage them to eat out more in the evening.

Just 11% eat out or rely on takeaways once a week or more, with only 10% spending between £21 and £40 per week on either takeaways or restaurant bills. 69% of those questioned buy takeaways and/or fast food once a fortnight or less.

Whilst students seem to be taking to heart the healthy eating message – one that has been espoused by Jamie Oliver, who 37% chose as their top celebrity chef – the reality remains that they are still struggling to pay for their shopping bill.

Although the research shows that cooking from scratch at home can be seemingly cost-effective (75% of those questioned who cooked regularly for themselves spent less than £30 per week on their food shop, which we think is pretty thrifty) lots of students are still struggling – 22% say that they “often” struggle to pay for fresh food, whilst it’s “occasionally” an issue for a further 34%.

Despite this, 68% consider themselves to eat healthily.

Of the 31% who don’t believe that they have a healthy diet 33% say that this is because it is too expensive, whilst 25% say that buying and preparing healthy food takes too much time.

Only 14% said that they could afford to buy healthy food and didn’t mind about the price.

BigChoice Group Head of Marketing, Lauren Hill, says: “It’s clear that, although students want to eat healthily and cook for themselves and their friends, they aren’t always able to do so – which is a shame.

“Students who want to boost their skills in the kitchen and have a commitment to eating healthily shouldn’t be discouraged from doing so because of the cost – they need more help to be able to do this.”

The National Student ran the survey in conjunction with Bacofoil, whose Student Cook of the Year final will be taking place in London on Friday 23rd January.

The competition has seen students submit dishes that they have created via the hashtag #BacofoilStudentCook, and the final cook-off will be judged by foodies including chef Sam Stern and Masterchef winner Steven Wallace.

For more information go to and for some healthy recipe ideas check out our food pages on The National Student:

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