Most Scots are not healthy eaters . . . and they know it

The majority of Scots do not follow healthy eating guidelines despite being aware of them, according to a report.

About 1,000 people living in Scotland were asked to say whether 11 statements about a balanced diet were true or false as part of Food Standard Scotland’s (FSS) consumer tracking survey.

They included “pure fruit juice is high in sugar”, “tinned fruit and vegetables count towards your five a day” and “wholemeal bread, beans, fruit and vegetables are all good sources of fibre”.

The FSS found that on average, Scots correctly identified eight out of the 11 statements, but consistently adhered to only two.

These were to drink between six to eight cups of fluid a day, which a third of consumers said they did, and to avoid using full fat butter and cream when cooking, which half of those polled did.

Findings also revealed that, while the majority believed that sugary beverages should be avoided, 40 per cent admitted drinking them at least once a day.

Participants agreed that the easiest food to buy when outside their homes was usually the least healthy, which prevented them from making better decisions about their diet.

Promotions in shops on calorie-high items were also listed as an obstacle to eating better, as 68 per cent of Scots said that they believed unhealthy foods were more likely to appear in supermarket deals than healthier options.

The survey comes in the same week that another damning report into the nation’s health was published.

On Tuesday a study commissioned by Cancer Research UK revealed that more than 80,000 children who had started primary school in Scotland over the past decade were obese or overweight, a statistic that figures in the health sector described as appalling.

Heather Peace, Food Standards Scotland’s head of nutrition science policy, said that the new survey helped to explain why Scots were so far from meeting dietary guidelines set out by the Scottish government.

“What is clear is that there isn’t a quick fix to the diet-related problems in Scotland, and that responsibility does not just fall on the individual to make the right choices, it falls on government and industry too to make sure that we all act together to tackle obesity and poor diet in Scotland,” she added.

“It is encouraging to see that the public are prepared to accept government intervention in terms of reformulation of ingredients, and early indications are that industry is prepared to work with us as well.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We are investing £12 million over five years on a range of programmes to tackle the nation’s poor diet.

“Changing attitudes will not happen overnight. We believe it will take almost a generation.”