Spotlight on Diet and Health

Having a healthy diet, being a normal weight, limiting our alcohol intake and exercising are some of the simple steps we can all take to improve our health.

Whilst this is good for us and good for our families, helping us to enjoy life into old age, it is also good for the wider economy and for society. Making healthy lifestyle choices helps reduce the risk of disease which ultimate reduces the number of people the NHS has to treat. It also results in more adults being able to work and fewer sickness days helping business. Taking just one example, it has been estimated that the overall cost of obesity and related illnesses to the economy could be £27 billion.

People being overweight or obese is a major problem in the UK. About one quarter of adults are obese. In children, one in five entering primary school and about a third starting secondary school are overweight or obese. The levels of obesity are a serious public health concern as excess weight increases the risk of developing chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure (which is linked to an increased risk of stroke) and cancer. It is also associated with poor mental health in adults and stigma in childhood.

What Causes Obesity
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It is important to consider that being healthy isn't only achieved by being a certain weight. In fact when you look at all the dietary factors, having an unhealthy diet is a bigger risk factor for disease than being overweight. As a nation we don't eat enough fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, fibre or wholegrain. We tend to have low levels of polyunsaturated fats and higher levels of saturated fats, and our levels of salt and sugars are above government recommendations.

Food and drink manufacturers recognise they have a responsibility to help people understand what's in their food and choose a diet that's appropriate for them and their families.

The case studies in this brochure outline the actions being taken by our members, from reformulating products to lower the energy, offering smaller portion sizes, and providing information including clear nutritional labelling.

Just as importantly, our actions consider the wider role of food and health, through increasing fruit and vegetable content of foods, increasing fibre and wholegrain and reformulating to lower salt, fat and sugars.

In all of this it's important to remember that food is both essential and one of life's pleasures. Food should taste good and be enjoyed. Our members are playing their part by helping people to have a more balanced diet while enjoying great tasting food.

Impact of Dietary Risk Factors
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Spotlight on Diet and Health Case Studies

Next page: Spotlight on Physical Activity

Last reviewed: 06 Jul 2015