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UK malnutrition on the rise, report finds

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By Anna Bonar+

Last updated on 25-Aug-2014 at 13:20 GMT

'Over-eating large amounts of ‘healthier’ foods can be as detrimental as under-consuming less healthy and processed options,' says Sam Allen, analyst at Canadean
'Over-eating large amounts of ‘healthier’ foods can be as detrimental as under-consuming less healthy and processed options,' says Sam Allen, analyst at Canadean

BBC findings suggest malnutrition is on the rise in the UK; a trend that could be due to insufficient education about balanced diet and hefty price tags on healthy food, Canadean says.

As broadcast by the BBC recent health figures showed a 19% increase in the instances of people admitted to hospital with malnutrition over the past year.

A recent survey from Canadean among 2,000 UK consumers, whose age was nationally representative, found that 26% of consumers lacked awareness of the link between malnutrition and poor nutritional intake.

Slightly more consumers (27%) failed to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, showing that even the well-known ‘5-a-day’ nutritional guidance was not being adhered to.

Simplified nutritional labelling

Speaking to Food Navigator Sam Allen, Canadean analyst, said while cost was of course an issue - the report found 40% of UK consumers believed grocery prices were rising - there were other things equally affecting consumer dietary habits.

“The food industry should continue to simplify increasingly complex nutritional labelling, ensuring clear and consistent dietary information,” Allen said. 

“By providing more information on balanced diets and portion sizes through websites etc, they can encourage consumers to take an all-round holistic approach to healthy eating and their diet,” he added.

Quality AND quantity

The problem is not only associated with what we ate but also how much of it, he said. 

"Over-eating large amounts of ‘healthier’ foods can be as detrimental as under-consuming less healthy and processed options. The challenge for consumers is to eat a variety of foods, as part of a healthier overall diet they can stick to, striking a balance between quality and quantity." 

In search of a bargain                                                                                                                                                             

Kirsty Nolan, Canadean analyst and author of the report acknowledged the cost still played a role.

“Education on how to eat healthily on a budget will be essential in proactively preventing this problem among our younger generations,” she said.

Finding showed 43% of consumers said they took advantage of promotions and price drops in 2013.

“Despite the growing media attention surrounding malnutrition, consumers remain very cost conscious in light of recent hard economic times. Consumers have proudly adopted the principles of being savvy shoppers and are always on the look-out for a bargain."

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