Addressing social inequalities in dietary behaviours

The ‘Food Standards Pocket Book’ estimates that the food purchases of the lowest income households could be adjusted to meet the recommendations set out in the Eatwell Plate (the previous version of the Eatwell Guide) by altering spending on different types of food as follows (£ per person per week): 5

  • £2.20 more on fruit and vegetables
  • £1.82 more on starchy foods
  • £0.68 less on meat, fish and eggs
  • £0.72 less on milk and dairy and
  • £2.62 less on foods high in fat and or sugar.

However, it is recognised that this would require changes in food behaviours that would be challenging for many households.

The Faculty of Public Health recommends that local authorities: 6

  • implement initiatives such as cooking clubs to encourage and develop cooking skills, and increase nutritional knowledge
  • integrate measures to address food poverty within existing local programmes and strategies, such as local obesity strategies
  • produce local information to explain the importance of a healthy diet and what constitutes a healthy diet, as well as listing local suppliers where good quality affordable food is available.

Sugar reduction

Dietary intake of sugar is a growing health concern (particularly among children) and, in response, PHE has published a set of recommendations, including the following: 7

  • adopt, implement and monitor the Government Buying Standards for food and drinks, across the public sector
  • ensure that accredited training in diet and health is routinely delivered to all those who have opportunities to influence food choices in the catering, fitness and leisure sectors and others within local authorities
  • continue to raise awareness of concerns around sugar levels in the diet to the public, employers and the food industry
  • encourage action to reduce sugar intake and provide practical steps to help people lower their own and their family’s sugar intake.

Fasting

Fasting is practiced by several faith groups, as mentioned in the religion and beliefs section.  The NHS provides information and advice on eating well and hydration when fasting. 8

References

  1. DEFRA, “Food Statistics Pocket Book,” ONS, London , 2012.
  2. Faculty of Public Health, “Food Poverty and Health,” FPH, London , 2005.
  3. Public Health England, “Sugar Reduction: from evidence to action,” Crown, London, 2015.
  4. NHS Choices, “Fasting and your health,” [Online]. Available: http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/healthyramadan/pages/fastingandhealth.aspx. [Accessed 25 August 2016].
  5. DEFRA, “Food Statistics Pocket Book,” ONS, London , 2012.
  6. Faculty of Public Health, “Food Poverty and Health,” FPH, London , 2005.
  7. Public Health England, “Sugar Reduction: from evidence to action,” Crown, London, 2015.
  8. NHS Choices, “Fasting and your health,” [Online]. Available: http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/healthyramadan/pages/fastingandhealth.aspx. [Accessed 25 August 2016].