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Monday, 3 July, 2000, 08:18 GMT 09:18 UK
Eating habits surveyed
Healthy food
Not everybody eats healthy food
The eating habits of the British are to be scrutinised in a survey to be carried out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

It will be the first time for nearly 15 years that people's diet has come under the microscope in such a way.

Two thousand adults will be asked a range of questions, including what, when and how much they eat.

They will also be asked how many meals they eat in front of the television, and how much exercise they take.



There has been a technical revolution since the last survey was carried out and people have different physical pursuits

Anthony Wright, Food Standards Agency

The volunteers will be asked to keep a detailed diary for seven days, recording everything they eat and drink.

Trained interviewers will visit people in their homes to help them complete the diaries.

The information obtained will allow intake of more than 50 nutrients to be calculated, including fat and fatty acids, sugar, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Anthony Wright, from the FSA, said: "There has been a technical revolution since the last survey was carried out and people have different physical pursuits.

"Recent nutritional studies have been carried out with children but it is adults who make up the majority of the population and make informed decisions on what they want to eat."

Valuable information

Sir John Krebs, the FSA chairman, said: "This survey will give us valuable, up-to-date information on this important group of people aged 19-64.

"It will provide a sound basis for future food policy as it affects this group, and for the development of nutrition education programmes."



The major killers such as heart disease and cancer are related to a large extent to diet

Sara Stanner, British Nutrition Foundation

The fourth National Diet and Nutrition Survey was commissioned jointly by the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health.

Adults in more than 150 parts of the UK will take part.

The findings are expected to be published in 2003 and used to shape future policies on nutritional health.

Sara Stanner, a nutrition scientist for the British Nutrition Foundation, welcomed the survey, and said it was important that more up-to-date information about dietary trends was made available.

She said there was evidence that many adults were not taking on board the importance of a healthy diet. For instance, many people did not eat the recommended minimum of five portoins of fruit and vegetables a day.

"Eating a healthy diet is absolutely essential. The major killers such as heart disease and cancer are related to a large extent to diet."

The FSA was launched in April this year to provide independent advice on healthy eating.

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