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what are we eating?

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I had a rummage through the UK’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey the other day.  It records the eating habits of over 1,000 people in the UK, so it paints a good picture of most people’s nutritional composition.

I thought it would be interesting to compare what the ‘average’ person eats to government guidelines for nutrition.  The chart below is that comparison.  I’ve highlighted the areas were people are not meeting guidelines in red, the areas where they are meeting guidelines in green and left the areas with no min/max guidelines white.  How do you match up?


A lot more red than green in there.  Conclusions about what the average person is eating:
•    Too much saturated fat – mostly from meat and dairy (cheese)
•    Not enough good fats – poly and monounsaturates (e.g. from oily fish and nuts)
•    Too much sugar – especially from processed carbs
•    Not enough fibre – e.g. from wholegrain carbs, beans, etc.

The average person’s current carbohydrates/fat/protein ratio is 47:35:18.  It should be more like 40:30:30.  People are getting too much of their energy from fat and carbohydrates.  Not only that, but they’re getting the wrong type of fat (saturated rather than poly- and monounsaturates) and wrong type of carbs (processed rather than wholegrain).

Interestingly, people are very close to meeting their 5 a day fruit and vegetables.  The average is 4.4.  Still not ideal, but I would have guessed it to be a lot lower.

If you’re curious, there’s lot more interesting information here, including specific foods consumed, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, break-down by age, rates of obesity, number of vegetarians, etc.