Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has today (14 October) published the results from its second Food in Scotland Consumer Tracking Survey, showing that while most people in Scotland are aware of healthy eating recommendations, the majority do not follow them.
This survey, conducted between the 28 June and 6 July 2016, shows that on average, Scots recognised eight out of 11 healthy eating statements based on the principles of the Eatwell Guide, but only two are consistently followed.
These are: a third (32%) of consumers regularly drink 6-8 cups of fluid a day on average, but the recommendation most widely adhered to is avoiding the use full fat butter and cream when cooking (48%).
Concern around the amount of sugar in food and drinks is increasing since FSS conducted its first Food in Scotland Consumer Tracking Survey in December 2015. The majority of Scots (79%) believe that sugary drinks such as colas or lemonades should be avoided, however participants also claimed that they drink sugary drinks at least once a day or more (41%).
A significant proportion of Scots feel that they have clear advice on what constitutes a healthy balanced diet (84%), and participants also agreed (85%) that an unhealthy diet could lead to health problems. There was also an increase in the level of concern about people in Scotland having a balanced diet since the publication of FSS’s first survey (up by 9 percentage points since 2015).
Participants felt that there are some significant barriers to making healthier choices, and the survey highlights that three-quarters of Scots agree that the most convenient food to buy outside of the home is usually the least healthy (74%). Price promotions were also highlighted as an issue, with just over two-thirds (68%) thinking that unhealthy foods seem to be on price promotion more often than healthy ones.
There is also a significant desire among people in Scotland for more regulation of ingredients in food as a way of improving diet (75%).
Heather Peace, Head of Nutrition, Science & Policy at FSS said: “This tracker survey helps explain why we are so far from meeting our dietary goals in Scotland, as most people say that they don’t follow healthy eating advice. What is clear is that there isn’t a quick fix to the diet-related problems in Scotland, and that responsibility does not just fall on the individual to make the right choices, it falls on government and industry too to make sure that we all act together to tackle obesity and poor diet in Scotland.
“Food Standards Scotland will continue to provide robust, consistent and evidence-based advice so that people in Scotland not only trust the advice given to them, but can make an informed choice about the food they eat as a result. This survey also shows that awareness of and trust in FSS as the new public sector food body for Scotland has increased in the last six months, and that is very encouraging, given the amount of noise and different – sometimes conflicting – opinion there is on what we should and shouldn’t eat.
“It is encouraging to see that the public are prepared to accept government intervention in terms of reformulation of ingredients, and early indications are that industry are prepared to work with us as well.”
The survey is conducted biannually amongst a representative sample of the Scottish population to track changes in knowledge, behaviour and attitudes in relation to food.
Notes to Editors
- Kantar TNS was commissioned to undertake the research on behalf of FSS, and surveyed a representative sample of adults in Scotland using an online self-completion approach. Quotas and weighting were used to ensure the sample is demographically and geographically representative of the adult population of Scotland.
- To establish knowledge of healthy eating recommendations, respondents were shown a list of statements and asked if they were true or false.
- Wholemeal bread, beans and fruit and vegetables are all good sources of fibre (True)
- People should eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg each day (True)
- People should drink at least 6-8 cups of fluid everyday (True)
- Tinned and frozen vegetables count towards your 5 a day (True)
- People should choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat them in small amounts
- Pure fruit juice is high in Sugar (True)
- People should choose dairy foods that are lower in fat (True)
- People should have meals where the main type of food is lean meat or oily fish e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines (False)
- People should choose dairy foods that are lower in sugar (True)
- People should use butter and/or cream in their cooking (False)
- People should have meals where the main type of food is potatoes, bread or pasta (True)
- The Eatwell Guide was produced by Public Health England in association with FSS and other UK governments. The Guide encompasses consensus evidence from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition Report on Carbohydrates and Health, together with existing dietary recommendations.