Documents to download

British diets include insuffient fruit and vegetables, fibre and oily fish, and too much added sugar, salt and saturated fats. The average British adult consumes:

  • 4.1 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Children consume around 3. 5 or more a day is recommended.
  • An estimated 18 g a day of fibre, compared to the recommended 30 g a day.
  • 8.1 g of salt per day, compared to the 6 g maximum. 80% of men and 58% of women exceed the guidelines, as do most children.
  • 12% of their energy from sugar compared to the recommended 5%.

Lower levels of income and education are associated with less healthy diets. While diet is a problem for the population as a whole, there are also several potential barriers to healthy food that are more prounced for these groups. Economic barriers include food prices and food insecurity, while physical barriers include the availability of unhealthy food. 

There are numerous opportunities to improve diets including education, improving school meals, reformulating food and restricting portion size and regulating advertising for unhealthy food. Evidence suggests there is no single best approach, but a range of potential strategies that may improve diet.  

Acknowledgements

POST would like to thank the following interviewees for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing:

  • Dr Jean Adams, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Simon Capewell, University of Liverpool
  • Professor Martin Caraher, City University London
  • Professor Steve Cummins, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department of Health
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Professor Elizabeth Dowler, University of Warwick
  • Dr Charlotte Evans, University of Leeds
  • Kate Halliwell, Food and Drink Federation
  • Professor Corinna Hawkes, City University London
  • Professor Theresa Marteau, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Pablo Monsivais, University of Cambridge
  • Michael Nelson, PHN Research
  • Tarra Penney, University of Cambridge
  • Ben Reynolds, Sustain
  • Paul Sacher, MEND
  • Anna Taylor, The Food Foundation
  • Alison Tedstone, Public Health England
  • Professor Martin White, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Wendy Wrieden, Newcastle University

Documents to download

Related posts

  • The COVID-19 Winter Plan, published 23 November, relies on three factors to provide the UK with a “route back to normality”: vaccines, treatments and testing. In addition to PCR testing, lateral flow devices are now being rolled out across England and Wales for the rapid testing of certain occupational groups, community testing and as an alternative to self-isolation following exposure to the virus. How well validated have these tests been? Are they accurate enough for their proposed purposes? And how have they performed to date in mass testing trials?

  • The use of technology to perpetrate domestic abuse, referred to as tech abuse, has become increasingly common. Domestic abuse charity Refuge reported that in 2019, 72% of women accessing its services said that they had been subjected to technology-facilitated abuse. Common devices such as smartphones and tablets can be misused to stalk, harass, impersonate and threaten victims. Some groups have raised concerns that the growing use of internet-connected home devices (such as smart speakers) may provide perpetrators with a wider and more sophisticated range of tools to harm victims. How is technology being used to perpetrate domestic abuse, how can this be prevented and what role can technology play in supporting victims?