The barriers between us and healthy eating

The Food Standards Agency’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) published yesterday shows that we’re eating less salt, saturated fat and sugar and more people are eating their five a day, but there is a lot to be done before most people meet dietary goals.

Rates of obesity and other diet-related diseases had prompted an unprecedented focus on promoting healthier eating. Whereas once it was all about education, it is recognised that government and industry also have important roles helping us to make healthier choices – from changing product recipes to simplified nutrition labelling. The NDNS results partly reflect this effort, but also reinforce that this will be a long haul. A multitude of actions are under way, but now need to go further and faster.

One area of success has been in reformulating products. The FSA has worked with manufacturers to reduce salt and is now looking at saturated fat and sugar. Action has taken place across many sectors, but the fact that many people would be surprised by how much salt was in their cereal or ready meal in the first place highlights the importance of information. If people don’t know what’s going on their plates and into their mouths, how can they follow a balanced diet? Many of us know little about what’s in our food so rely on producers to be transparent on front of pack and responsible in their use of health and nutrition claims, not exploiting our naivety.

But front of pack nutrition labelling is one area where the FSA still meets resistance. Many companies have adopted the FSA’s recommended scheme; others have persisted with a different approach. A recent FSA evaluation found that the best model combines % guideline daily amounts, traffic light colours and ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ descriptors. All manufacturers and retailers now need to take a responsible, evidence-based approach and use this single scheme.

But we don’t just get our food from supermarkets. People spend almost a third of their food budget on eating out so more information is needed in restaurants. Last year, the FSA secured the commitment of some of the UK’s leading eateries to display calorie information on their menus. This now needs to be rolled out more broadly. Some places where we eat out are particularly key and school meals have rightly received a lot of focus. It is now important to focus more on food provided in other important institutions, most notably, and ironically, hospitals.

Food promotions also need more attention. Government messages about healthy eating must not be watered down or undermined by heavy, sophisticated promotion of less healthy foods, whether in the form of price promotions aimed at adults or creative techniques targeting children through various media encouraging a desire for precisely those foods they should be eating in moderation.

Many UK initiatives have been world leading but will take time to translate into real change, healthier diets and longer lives. The momentum has to be maintained and there are still many new areas that need to be addressed. Only then will it be easy for consumers to opt for healthier, rather than less healthy choices.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

    £17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test