DIET: Britons spend more on food

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Britons spent 7 per cent more on food in the last three months of the year and ate more vegetables, bananas and sugar while avoiding whole milk, fresh potatoes and mineral water. The National Food Survey results for October to December 1996 revealed that we now spend an average pounds 14.60 on household food per week, an increase of 98p on the previous year. We now spend pounds 4.35 a week eating out compared with pounds 3.87 the year before.

Household consumption of beef is starting to recover although it fell during 1996 as a whole with the most marked increase in mutton, lamb and poultry.

However, a report from the Vegetarian Society, published today, says that 38 per cent of 4- to 11-year-olds in Britain are avoiding eating beef following the BSE scare, and one in five is avoiding most meat. "To get such a high figure for such a young proportion of the population is quite dramatic," Stephen Connor, communications manager of the Vegetarian Society, said. The report, based on feedback from 1,480 children, showed that only 3 per cent of the children were strict vegetarians, compared with an average of 7 per cent among adults.