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New research reveals widespread confusion around healthy eating

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The British Nutrition Foundation has revealed confusion about which foods count towards the five-a-day or provide certain nutrients, including fibre and protein.

As part of the recent Healthy Eating Week, findings from the new survey has suggested that nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of primary schoolchildren (aged seven-11) and 17 per cent of older children (11-16) think that chicken counts towards five-a-day, while nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of primary school children think that cheese can be one of your five-a-day.

Furthermore, only 38 per cent of all UK adults and 23 per cent of older children know that carrots contain fibre, while only 60 per cent of secondary schoolchildren and 36 per cent of primary school children believe that wholemeal bread is a source of fibre. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of all schoolchildren think that chicken is a source of fibre, although it actually provides no fibre at all.

The survey also shows that many people do not currently eat, or have never tried, a range of plant foods, such as beans and lentils, which provide essential nutrients like protein and fibre. One third of adults and more than half (55 per cent) of school children reportedthat they have never tried lentils, one third of adults and 46 per cent of schoolchildren have never tried
chickpeas and over a quarter (28 per cent) of adults and in addition, 48 per cent of children have never tried kidney beans.

Sara Stanner, Science Director at British Nutrition Foundation, commented: “Government advice is for us all to eat more plant-based foods because they’re good for us and for the environment. It is concerning that there is confusion across the UK about the nutritional contents of some common foods, including plant-based foods. Lack of knowledge means people are less empowered to make informed choices, and achieving a healthy diet, with a good balance of the right types of foods, is more difficult if you don’t know which key nutrients the foods that we eat provide.”

The survey findings also reveal a mixed picture when it comes to how people most commonly manage their food waste. A quarter of all adults say that they put their food waste in the general waste bin, with only 17 per cent using a compost bin, and 27 per cent freezing leftover food to eat at a later date. Nearly a third (32 per cent) say they use ‘what they can’ of unused foods, cutting off mouldy bits and eating the remainder, while 30 per cent say that they look for a recipe to help use leftovers up.

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