Are people in the UK as healthy as they think they are?

According to Kantar Media, 37% of adults (those over the age of 15) in Britain consider their diets to be very healthy, a figure which has remained relatively consistent over recent years. Interestingly, those aged 65 and over are 28% more likely to agree with this statement than the average adult.

In terms of those who have started eating more healthily than they have in the past, this proportion is getting larger again (after a recent dip). Agreement with this attitude stood at 59% in 2009, but had fallen to 52% by 2013, but has picked up again to 55% today. This could be a legacy from the 2008 onwards economic downturn – people doing more comfort eating, which ended up becoming something of a habit.

Meanwhile, more and more adults say they always think about the calories in what they eat. This stood at 24% in 2011 and 26% in 2015 – it’s up to 29% today.

Whilst we don’t always do what we say we do, Kantar Worldpanel data confirms that consumers are considering healthier choices. More than 27% of all the food and drink UK shoppers consume are chosen for ‘health reasons’, versus 25% in 2013. And consumers over 65 years old are 16% more likely to consume with health in mind than an average adult.

As we wrote recently, fruit and veg consumption has risen in Scotland. Sales of fresh produce in Scotland passed the £1bn mark for the first time in 2017, with Scots shoppers buying considerably more fruit and vegetables now than they were two years ago.

The gender divide

But it’s not all healthy healthy – particularly amongst men. The proportion of adults who say they don’t really care what ingredients are in a ready meal, as long as it is cheap and tastes good, has grown from 16% in in 2014 up to 20% today – and it is especially men who are likely to agree with this attitude: 34% do say compared to just 15% of women, according to Kantar Media.

Men are more likely generally to be less into their health foods. In fact they are 23% more likely than the average adult to agree ‘I think health foods are only bought by fanatics’.

Home cooking is back in vogue

Perhaps as a result of the enduring success of programmes like ‘Bake Off’, the proportion of adults who say they prefer to prepare their meals from scratch has grown from 52% in 2014 to 58% today.

Kantar Worldpanel data confirms that about 58% of the population cook dinner from scratch at least once a week. But this only represents under a third of all our evening meals. Whilst there is a clear will from consumers to cook more, this doesn’t translate into action. So how can manufacturers and retailers help inspire the chef in all of us?


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