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But bananas and carrots top the nation’s list of favourites

Unhealthy Britons are tucking into starchy chips, roasters and mash to get their five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, unaware that potatoes don’t actually count towards their daily intake, new research has revealed.

The survey by the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) found that two thirds of Brits – a staggering 38 million people1 – are still mistakenly gorging on potatoes to contribute to their daily fruit and vegetables, at the expense of healthy greens such as spinach.

Unsurprisingly, over two thirds of the 3,300 people2 questioned admitted that they are confused by the Government’s recommendations relating to health and nutrition, saying that conflicting messages make them disregard many guidelines. Almost 20% reported that they ignore nutritional guidelines altogether.

The statistics reflect FSA research which found that on average, only 14% of Britons eat the recommended five portions or fruit and vegetables every day3.

In fact, rather than benefiting from the mass availability of health information, the HFMA survey indicated that just 16% of respondents felt that today’s lifestyles are healthier than they were in the 1980s.

The results support the Government’s latest Cabinet Office discussion paper4 which reported that the UK’s poor health and burgeoning obesity epidemic has been caused by a combination of too much saturated fat, salt, sugar and alcohol, and too little in the way of fruit and vegetables.

The paper also acknowledged that up to 70,000 premature deaths a year could be prevented if UK diets followed nutritional guidelines4.

On the positive side, the HFMA’s survey also found that:

• We’re bright eyed both night and day, with carrots topping the league table as the UK’s favourite vegetable
• It’s no longer ‘an apple a day’ for us Brits, with bananas topping the list of our all time favourite fruit
• We’re a nation of home bodies when it comes to fruit and veg, with mangoes the most ‘exotic’ fruit in the nation’s top 20

The HFMA’s survey also examined other areas relating to the health of the nation, revealing that women are more likely to boost their vitamin and mineral intake using supplements than men, with 40% of women vitamins and minerals more than five times a week compared to 30% of men.

Nutritionist, Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD said: “With only 15% of women and 13% of men eating the recommended five-a-day fruit and vegetables, it is important that people are trying to keep themselves in good health by using supplements on a daily basis.

“Supplements can never be a substitute for a healthy diet but we know that compared to the 1930s, fruit and vegetables can be depleted in minerals by an average of 20%, and that other foods like dairy have lost minerals such as iron in milk by over 60%. So with the best will in the world it is difficult today to get everything we need from food alone.”

Among other findings:

• 66% of the UK population – over 32 million adults5 - take a vitamin and mineral supplement, the most popular of which is a multivitamin, which is taken by a third of all vitamin users

• Users are clear about the benefits of their supplements with the majority taking them for ‘improved general health and wellbeing’, ‘feeling unwell less frequently’ and ‘more energy’

• 58% of vitamin and mineral users take supplements more than five times a week, while 24% admit to taking supplements ‘whenever I remember’

• 21% rely on natural remedies and herbal supplements when they feel ill

• The most popular complementary or alternative therapies are aromatherapy followed closely by herbal remedies, reflexology, acupuncture and homeopathy

HFMA Director, David Adams, added: “With more than 18 million adults regularly taking vitamin and mineral supplements, we know that as a nation, we are increasingly taking charge of our health through enhanced nutrition.

“But while it is heartening to see that high numbers of people are boosting health and wellbeing with supplements, it is vital that the public has access to straightforward, responsible information about how essential vitamins and minerals work. Taking supplements ‘whenever they remember’ isn’t the most effective way of benefiting from them.”

The HFMA is the trade association for the UK’s natural health industry. A not-for-profit organisation, it represents more than 120 manufacturers and suppliers of quality natural health products.

For more information about the HFMA, visit

HFMA Healthy Nation 2008 – The Nation’s Favourite Fruit and Vegetables

The UK’s top 10 favourite fresh fruit:
1. Bananas
2. Tomatoes
3. Apples
4. Grapes
5. Oranges
6. Pineapple
7. Peach
8. Plums
9. Mango
10. Pears

The UK’s top 10 favourite vegetables:
1. Carrots
2. Potatoes
3. Onions
4. Broccoli
5. Lettuce
6. Cucumber
7. Cauliflower
8. Spring greens
9. Spinach
10. Celery


1 Based on a UK population of 60,587,000 (UK census results, June 2006 - Office for National Statistics)
2 Survey of 3,306 UK residents conducted by OnePoll
3 Health Survey of England - FSA, February 2006
4 ‘Food: An Analysis of the Issues’ – Cabinet Office, January 2008
5 Based on a UK adult population of 49 million

Issued on behalf of: HFMA
Issued by: Pegasus PR
Press enquiries:
Stephanie Butt or Terri Foster on 01903 821550 or /


The Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) is the voice of the UK’s natural health industry and represents more than 120 manufacturers and suppliers of natural health products.

Founded in 1965, the HFMA is a not-for-profit organisation which operates long-standing codes of practice to ensure that member companies adhere to high standards and offer good quality, safe products supported by responsible, lawful information.

For further information about the HFMA, visit

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Pegasus Public Relations (Worthing) in the following categories: Men's Interest, Health, Women's Interest & Beauty, for more information visit