UK Eating Habits
A Nutritional Overview
The proportion of energy in our diets coming from fat is about the same as in the 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s the energy from fat in our diets increased but since the late 1980s we have been consuming less total fat and we've also cut down on saturated fat, which takes us nearer the target levels (35% food energy from total fat, 11% food energy from saturated fat).
This may be due to the general switch from whole milk, butter, margarine and lard to semi-skimmed and skimmed milk, vegetable oils and low/ reduced-fat spreads.
There have been considerable changes in the types of foods we're eating. This means that the main sources of nutrients in our diets has been changing.
For example, in the 1950s, most of our vitamin C came from potatoes, which were plentiful during the war when fruit wasn't, whereas today we get the majority of our vitamin C from fruit and fruit juice.
In 1950, tea was the most common drink for children - today it's soft drinks. In fact, children aged 4 to 18 drink two-thirds more fizzy drinks than milk (National Diet and Nutrition Survey).
Many children today are getting a high proportion of their energy from sugar, and some of this is down to soft drinks. But, of course, tea was often sweetened with sugar and too much tea can reduce absorption of iron, which is needed for healthy blood.
Rationing ended in 1954. After years of compulsory restriction, we were free again to indulge our tastes for meat, butter, sugar, eggs and white bread.
The wartime diet was not popular. However, rationing in the 1950s was able to provide a generally healthy diet. This is despite the fact that its energy content was comparatively high and the fat was almost entirely saturated. It was also higher in salt, but it didn't contain the innumerable convenience foods we have today, and women were expected to prepare most foods in their own home. It was also low in fruit, especially in the winter.
Generally it was thought of as monotonous and dull - and it would be difficult to convince people today to eat in the same way.
Newly available vegetables, such as mushrooms and exotic salad leaves (such as rocket, radicchio, chicory and baby spinach) have grown in popularity compared with traditional veg like swedes, parsnips and Brussels sprouts.
(Source: National Food Survey, 2000)
Following significant changes over the past few years, the British diet is probably as healthy as it's ever been. As a nation, our intake of saturated fat is decreasing in line with Government targets. But we are not there yet. We still need to reduce our consumption of fat, sugar and salt, and eat more fruit and vegetables.
There is still more work to do to build on this progress (and that includes being more physically active) if we are to see a reduction in conditions such as heart disease, stroke, some cancers and obesity.
Healthy Weight Loss Advice
OBESITY, OVERWEIGHT and