The Great British diet
Should the UK really follow an
English diet? Our Senior Dietitian, Tracy Parker, blogs about
research which says just that.
Tuesday November 02 2011
the English rejoice! New research apparently says lives could be
saved if Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland begin eating the diet
of St George. Take that haggis, in your face Welsh rarebit, hasta
la vista Irish stew. Long live the Yorkshire
But let’s take a deep breath before waging a
UK food fight. Good research often raises more
questions than it answers.
The crux of the research, funded by us, showed
that people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales ate
more saturated fat and salt and fewer fruits and
vegetables every day than their English counterparts.
No matter where in the UK we live, we could all do more to improve our diet
let’s get to the bit that has prompted the headlines. Researchers
then calculated what differences in death rates could be expected
from changes in “average dietary quality” using a complicated
mathematical model called DIETRON. Apart from sounding like
a character from the new Transformers movie
calculates the impact of food consumption on health outcomes.
The results showed around 4,000 deaths, most
from heart disease, could be prevented every year if the UK
population adopted the average diet eaten in England. It’s a big
“if” though and definitely not that black and
Too much salt
The main problem with telling people to go out
and follow an English way of eating is that England is not home to
the perfect diet. Far from it. A quarter of English adults
are obese and only a third are eating their five-a-day.
The most recent statistics show 9 in 10 men and 7 in 10 women in
England are exceeding the maximum recommended daily amount of
So the English are by no means perfect and
this study shouldn’t prompt people living in England to sit back
and think they’re eating the perfect diet. It is, however, very
useful in showing huge inequalities in diet and
health across the UK.
I think the real message here is that no
matter where in the UK we live, we could all do more to
improve our diet. That means a
balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg and less saturated
fat and salt. This shouldn’t be about bragging rights – there’s
work to be done everywhere.