To do: a healthier diet for the UK population

After nearly a year away from the UK I thought that I would investigate the ‘big picture’ in regard to the health of the general population…you know, just in case I missed anything important while I was away. Here’s a summary:


According to the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) conducted in schools

  • About 1/3 (33.3%)of 10-11 year olds are overweight or obese
  • More than 1/5 (22.2%) of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese

A report from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) highlight studies that say 77% of the parents of overweight children do not recognise that their child is overweight. The annual Weigh-In report (from the Academy of Royal medical Colleges) says that in the last year there has been no progress in regard to some important changes that could improve the health of children, including improving the nutritional standards of school lunches in free schools and academies, restricting the advertising of junk food and investment in weight management services.


The lifestyle statistics team at the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) reports:

  • 66.6% of adult men are overweight or obese
  • 57.2% of adult women are overweight or obese
  • Not many people are very active – for example, about 50% went for a 10 minute walk at least once in a 4 week period
  • Over 10,000 people were admitted to hospital due to their obesity in 2012-13

The CMO is concerned that being overweight is becoming ‘normal’, since the majority of the population is overweight or obese. Research shows that many people who are overweight think that their weight ‘is about right’, but the concern is that they are comparing themselves to the severely obese people that feature in many news stories and are not representative of most overweight people.


The latest national diet and nutrition survey (NDNS) has found:

  • Adults eat about 4 portions of fruits and vegetables every day (5-a-day is recommended)
  • Children eat about 3 portions of fruits and vegetables every day
  • Few of us eat the recommended amount of oily fish (140g) once a week
  • We all eat too much sugar – which can be hidden in all kinds of foods
  • We all eat too little fibre
  • We are getting enough vitamins from the food we eat, except for vitamin D (more time in the sun needed). Some children were also a bit low on vitamin A and riboflavin. Supplements, like multivitamins, do not seem to help.
  • Some of us are not getting enough minerals from the food we eat, particularly iron. Supplements do not seem to help.
  • Nearly half of adults had high cholesterol levels, which increases risk of developing cardiovascular disease

The HSCIC reports a significant increase in household expenditure on fats and oils, butter, sugar and preserves, fruit and fruit juice, soft drinks and beverages.

Overall, it seems there is still reason for concern about the weight status of the population and there is plenty to be done to encourage a healthier diet. Good news for nutritionists like me…lots of work to do! I’d better get cracking!!

What do you find interesting about this information?






One response

  1. Excellent summary of the facts! Thank you Sharon.
    The most important being that professional expert voices are not being listened to. The Royal Medical Colleges submitted their ten recommendations last year complete from a year long study and what has happened? Nothing!
    We need a government who are willing to make the right choices even if it means making difficult ones.

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