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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 12:24 GMT
British diet 'could do better'
Food (BBC)
We should all eat five daily portions of fruit and veg
Many people in Britain are still not eating the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day.

The biggest survey of eating habits since 1987 shows that most adults eat less than three portions.

The figures are better than last time on the whole, but, according to the Food Standards Agency, show room for improvement in some groups.


Some groups are showing little or no improvement in eating well

Alette Weaver, Food Standards Agency
Young people give particular cause for concern. Men and women aged 19-24 are eating no more fruit and veg than they did 15 years ago.

Adults in their 50s and early 60s are doing better, though, with 24% of men and 22% of women eating five or more portions a day.

Alette Weaver, head of dietary surveys at the Food Standards Agency, said: "There has been a welcome increase in the amount of fruit and veg and oily fish eaten by some groups.

"This is most evident in the older age groups, and particularly in women. But some groups are showing little or no improvement in eating well.

"We are continuing to analyse this information to see whether people are getting all the nutrients they need for health."

'Five-a-day'

The Department of Health is developing a new trademark, to provide clear messages on what counts towards a portion of fruit and vegetables.

The 'Five-a-day' logo, to be unveiled in the New Year, is designed for use by the food industry and other organisations.

Public Health Minister Hazel Blears said: "We need to make it easy for people to make healthy choices and the development of our new logo is one way to achieve that.

"We hope the food industry will support this initiative to give consumers quick and easy access to the information they need to know what counts towards a healthy diet."

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey also shows:

  • Fruit and veg consumption is lower in households on benefits

  • 35% of men and 30% of women in this group ate no fruit during the survey week.

The survey also looked at oily fish consumption, which has increased from about a quarter of a portion to a third of a portion per week.

The Food Standard Agency's advice is to eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily.

It says people are eating more salmon, which has become more readily available and cheaper in recent years.

Lifestyle habits

Further trends in food and drink consumption were identified in the survey.

Banana consumption has increased by nearly 300% since 1987, with people now eating two a week on average.

Consumption of non-alcoholic fizzy drinks has also risen dramatically, particularly among young people.

Colette Kelly of the British Nutrition Foundation said the results were encouraging on the whole.

She told BBC News Online: "It is encouraging because some of these messages are getting through to certain groups.

"But we perhaps need to target messages in different ways and formats for the younger groups."

She said dietary advice had to reflect the changes in lifestyles seen in recent years.

This could account for the rise in popularity of fruits such as bananas which can be eaten on the move.

See also:

24 Sep 02 | Health
06 Sep 01 | Health
06 Aug 01 | Health
02 May 01 | Health
04 Jun 01 | Health
29 May 01 | Health
09 Oct 01 | Health
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