Britons are eating their way to a lifetime of illness: Most fail to manage five fruit and veg a dayAlmost half of us have high cholesterolQuarter have high blood pressure



06:51 GMT, 26 July 2012

Britons are condemning themselves to a lifetime of serious illnesses with their appalling diets, experts warn.

The majority of us still eat far too much fat and not nearly enough fruit and veg, despite endless Government health campaigns.

An official survey has found that only a third of adults and one in ten children are getting their recommended ‘five a day’ target.

Only a third of adults and one in ten children are getting their recommended 'five a day' target

Only a third of adults and one in ten children are getting their recommended 'five a day' target

Consuming too much saturated fat raises the risk of heart problems and diabetes.

In fact just under half of adults have high cholesterol levels – fatty deposits in the blood that can block blood vessels.

And a quarter have high blood pressure, according to the Department of Health’s annual Diet and Nutrition Survey.

It also showed that the average adult is not eating enough oily fish – such as salmon, sardines and tinned tuna – which helps prevent heart disease.

The average adult eats four portions of fruit and veg each day, with 31 per cent of people aged between 19 and 64 eating five.

Only 8 per cent of teenage girls and 11 per cent of boys eat their recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.


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On average girls only manage 2.8 portions while boys have three. This has not improved since the survey was carried out last year.

Tracy Parker, senior dietician at the
British Heart Foundation, said: ‘The nation is consuming too much
saturated fat and too many people have high cholesterol – a major risk
factor for heart and circulatory disease.

‘It’s disappointing that a year on there has been no real improvement in the number of young people eating their five-a-day.

and vegetables help young minds and bodies develop and should be an
integral part of any teenager’s diet. It’s not just young people though –
all age groups are failing to clear the five-a-day bar.

all got a part to play to ensure next year’s results are more
promising. It’s important that shoppers are able to see what’s in the
food they’re buying and the industry should introduce traffic light
colours on all food labels to help busy parents.’

survey is completed by 500 adults and 500 children every year and is
meant to provide a snapshot of the nation’s eating habits.

It also found that 46 per cent of teenage girls and 23 per cent of women are not getting enough iron.

This can lead to anaemia, which can cause fatigue and light-headedness.

The Government has recently been criticised over its attempts to improve the nation’s eating habits and reverse the rising obesity levels.



Health experts and charities have expressed scepticism over its ‘responsibility deal’ initiative, whereby food firms are allowed to set their own targets for reducing sugar, salt and fat.

Another study has emphasised the importance of a good diet in tackling obesity.

Research shows that contrary to popular opinion, Westerners surrounded by mod cons don’t burn fewer calories on a day to day basis than African tribes who spend their days hunting and foraging for food.

It suggests that lack of exercise isn’t making us fat. Instead, what we eat is at the root of the problem.

American anthropologists found that despite walking for miles each day in search of food and lacking modern equipment, the Hadza hunter-gatherers, from northern Tanzania, burnt off the same number of calories as Westerners.

Researcher Dr Herman Pontzer, of Hunter College in New York, said this can be explained by physical activity only making up a small proportion of our energy requirements.

In the Hadza’s case, their daily forays for food only accounted for 10 to 15 per cent of the energy used.

But exercise is still important for general health. Dr Pontzer, who details his findings in the journal PLoS ONE, said: ‘Exercise is important in preventing heart disease and diabetes. It just probably isn’t a big part of the answer for the obesity issue.’