UK adults ‘confused’ about best healthy eating practices

14/06/2018 - 07:00
Supporting British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) Healthy Eating Week (11-15 June), new research has found that 43% of adults find it “difficult to find reliable information on healthy diets” – citing changing information, messages and advice from media and experts as the ‘biggest causes’ for confusion.

Undertaken on 500 adults across the UK, the survey also revealed that the majority (37%) source nutritional information via social media. In comparison, 30% use the NHS website; 25% ‘other’ health websites and just 14% rely on doctors, hospitals or health clinics.

“With two thirds of adults overweight or obese, the UK is in the middle of an obesity crisis,” said BNF managing director, Roy Ballam, “and lack of consumer knowledge and reliable information on healthy eating is a huge cause for concern.

“In the digital age, with growing concerns about the trustworthiness of information in the media, many are confused about which online sources are reliable – unsurprising when there is so much conflicting advice available.”

He also warned that the public “need to receive more consistent messaging about diet and nutrition if we are to stand a fighting chance of changing these worrying health statistics”.

Further cause for concern is the fact that half (48%) of respondents feel busy lives and stress prevent them from eating healthily; while another 40% are too tired after work to be active.

Not least helped when 24% feel there are ‘limited’ healthy food and drink options available at work or close by, and 28% that there are ‘too many’ unhealthy snacks available in their work setting.

That said, the majority of respondents (68%) are motivated to eat healthily in order to control their weight – with (61%) ‘always or often’ checking nutrition labels when food shopping.

Ballam added: “It is really encouraging to see that people are motivated to eat well and to check the nutritional content of the foods they buy. However, there are clearly many who are struggling to put this into action because they are too busy, stressed or tired.

“We need to find evidence-based, practical ways to make it easier to be healthy that fit in with people’s daily lives.

“We know that a key to reducing obesity is changing consumer behaviour. Some of this will come from government and local environments making it easier for people to change.

“The results from this survey show that the main motivation for being healthy is weight control, however, there seem to be a number of barriers within workplaces and universities that make this difficult.

“Encouraging work settings to engage more with health may be an effective way of helping people put their good intentions into action, and we’ve seen an excellent response to BNF Healthy Eating Week for workplaces and universities this year.”

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