Skip navigation
Skip navigation
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser.

HFMA Healthy Nation Survey 2010


Britons ignore ‘five-a-day’ messages in favour of a higher-calorie lifestyle

Fresh fruit and vegetables are off the menu, as recession-hit Britons put their health on the back burner in favour of a diet of junk food and ready meals, new research has revealed. Over 30% feel that their diet has worsened since the start of the recent economic downturn.

The survey by the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA), the largest yet conducted, found that as many as two thirds of Brits – a staggering 36 million people* – are opting to fill up on TV dinners and fast food takeaways and are falling short of the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

The survey of 5,000** people found that more than 50% of those questioned claimed that the recent high profile health campaigns including ‘five-a-day’ and ‘Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners’ have done little to alter their eating habits, and almost as many admitted that they are confused by the Government’s recommendations relating to health and nutrition. Worryingly, 27% 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 day***.

The eating habits of the under-18s seemed to have fared the worst in the economic downturn, with more than 60% claiming to be eating more junk food as a result of the recession. Alarmingly one in 10 of under-18s also believe that the ‘five-a-day’ campaign supports the consumption of five meals a day rather than five portions of fruit and vegetables!

Other surprising statistics include:

Unhealthy teens are opting for pizza and cheese and onion flavoured crisps to hit their ‘five-a-day’ targets
30-somethings are drinking their way to naught a day, with more than one in 10 wrongly believing that wine counts towards their daily intake of fruit and vegetables
Meanwhile, 10% of those between the ages of 50 and 55 favour tomato ketchup to bolster their ‘five-a-day’!
Men are in the dark when it comes to health campaigns, with a fifth claiming to be clueless about what ‘five a day’ represents

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 guidelines****.

On the positive side, the HFMA’s survey found that in the two years since the last ‘Healthy Nation’ survey:

We’re alright for sight, with carrots still topping the league table as the UK’s favourite vegetable
It’s ‘an apple a day to keep the doctor away’ for us Brits, with the autumnal fruit toppling the banana as our favourite fruit
For the most part, we love local when it comes to fruit and veg, with the majority of the nation’s top 20 sourced from the UK or the near Continent

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 taking vitamins and minerals more than five times a week compared to 30% of men.

Nutritionist, Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD said: “With such a small proportion of men and women eating the recommended five-a-day fruit and vegetables or unknowingly opting for food that doesn’t count such as potato, pizza and wine, 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:

Almost 27 million adults***** - take a vitamin and mineral supplement, the most popular of which is a multivitamin, taken by a third of all vitamin users
Users are clear about the benefits of their supplements with the majority taking them for ‘general health and wellbeing’, ‘joint health’ and ‘optimising health’
Over 17 million vitamin and mineral users take supplements more than four times a week, while 15% admit to taking supplements ‘whenever I remember’

The HFMA’s Executive Director, Graham Keen, added: “The recession is clearly having a worrying effect on our health and lifestyle, but with more than 27 million adults regularly taking vitamin and mineral supplements we know that, as a nation, we are increasingly taking charge of our health by enhancing nutrition through supplementation.

“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 2010 – The Nation’s Favourite Fruit and Vegetables

The UK’s top 10 favourite fresh fruit:

1. Apples

2. Bananas

3. Tomatoes

4. Grapes

5. Oranges

6. Dried fruit

7. Strawberries

8. Melon

9. Pineapple

10. Plums

The UK’s top 10 favourite vegetables:

1. Carrots

2. Broccoli

3. Salad greens

4. Potatoes

5. Peppers

6. Cucumber

7. Cauliflower

8. Spring greens

9. Spinach

10. Celery


* An approximate figure based on an estimated UK population of 61,383,000 (Office for National Statistics Population Estimates, mid-2008 -

** Survey of 5,000 UK residents conducted by OnePoll

*** Health Survey of England - FSA, February 2006

**** ‘Food: An Analysis of the Issues’ – Cabinet Office, January 2008

*****Based on a UK adult population of 49 million

Issued on behalf of:

Issued by:
Pegasus PR

Press enquiries:
Stephanie Matson or Lucy Lott on 01903 821550 /


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: Children & Teenagers, Health, Women's Interest & Beauty, Food & Drink, for more information visit