Fatty spreads are the biggest offender in an epidemic of “mindless eating” that leads Britons to consume 43% more food each year than they should, warns new research commissioned by Weight Watchers.
The study revealed that the average Briton ate 1,270kg of food a year – the equivalent weight of a whole football team – representing 384kg more food than the body needed.
Over consumption was driven by a process of "mindless eating" where people made 220 food and drink decisions every day, yet were conscious of only about 15.
‘Epidemic of over-eating’
Zoe Hellman, head of public health, Weight Watchers, said: “The current epidemic of over-eating is hugely influenced by today’s overloaded food environment. With the increased popularity of coffee shop culture and eating on the go it seems that, everywhere you turn, there is yet another place where you can buy food, cooked and ready to eat.”
The biggest contributor to over-eating was fatty spreads, claimed the organisation. Each week the average Briton consumes seven times more than the recommended amount of butter and margarine-type spreads.
Weight Watchers said most people ate nearly four times the recommended amount of meat each week and more than twice as much bread and three times as many biscuits and cakes.
But we eat 69% less fruit and 75% less vegetables than medical guidelines recommended.
The organisation said it aimed to arm consumers with “the tools and tactics” needed to navigate through a “toxic environment”, to make better food choices for permanent weight loss.
Britain’s obesity epidemic places a direct cost burden on the National Health Service of £5.1bn each year, according to the Department of Health.
Obesity can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and heart and liver disease.
The food and drink industry is working with government to improve the national diet via the Public Health Responsibility Deal (PHRD).
Earlier this month, more food manufacturers and foodservice outlets were urged to sign up to the government's PHRD Food Network in order to halt the rising tide of UK obesity.
Its chair, Dr Susan Jebb, said: “Every single food company has something to contribute to calorie reduction ...”
‘Mindless eating’ – in numbers
- 1,270 – Kg of food consumed each year by the average Britain
- 384 – Kg beyond which the body needs for nutrition
- 220 – Number of daily food and drink decisions
- 15 – Number of conscious daily food and drink decisions
- 69% – Percentage deficit of fruit compared with medical guidelines
- 75% - Percentage deficit of vegetables compared with medical guidelines.
Source: Weight Watchers