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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2005, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Fears over food and drink habits
Pint of lager
The average person spends 3.21 a week on alcohol
People are drinking more alcohol and consuming less fruit and vegetables, raising fears about public health.

The findings come from a government study into consumption trends in 2003 to 2004.

Alcohol consumption increased by 9% from the previous year, the survey of 17,000 people showed.

It also showed a 1.6% fall in fruit and vegetable sales, meaning people ate 3.7 portions a day on average - well short of the "five-a-day" target.

Nutritionists said the trends were "worrying" with obesity on the rise.

In the UK, adult obesity rates have almost quadrupled in the last 25 years with nearly one in four adults classed as obese or overweight.

Ursula Arens, of the British Dietetic Association, said the findings showed people were under pressure to choose things that are "instant".

We cannot tell people how to live their lives or force them to be healthy
Department of Health spokeswoman

"People are choosing microwaveable and ready-meals because they want something easy.

"But these do not have the nutritional content of fresh fruit and veg."

And Brigid McKevith, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, added: "The alcohol intake in concerning. Alcohol does not really have much nutritional benefit, so for those who are at the top end of the consumption rates, this must be addressed."


The report, "Family Food - Expenditure and Food Survey", compiled by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, showed that overall spending on alcohol consumption had risen by 6.5%.

Average spending on alcohol is 3.21 a week for over 14s, with wine and lager being the most popular drinks.

The study also showed people were getting more of their energy consumption from food and drinks high in fat, saturated fat and sugar.

Money spent on confectionary rose by 5.8%, while soft drink sales were up by 10%.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the public was rebelling against the government's "nanny state" approach.

"The figures are really disturbing."

But a Department of Health spokeswoman said the government was committed to reducing obesity and ill health and November's Public Health White Paper had set out a range of measures, such as restrictions on junk food advertising and better food labelling, to achieve this.

But she added: "We cannot tell people how to live their lives or force them to be healthy."

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