Chocolate named UK’s favourite junk food with crisps in second place

31 May

  • Chocolate firm favourite for women, while for men chocolate and crisps tie for first place
  • 3 in 5 eat junk food at least three times a week
  • 70% spend up to £21 a week per person on junk food
  • Whether it’s chocolate, crisps or take-away pizza, World Cancer Research Fund’s campaign, Dump the Junk, is encouraging people to give up their favourite junk food, for the month of June

Chocolate has topped the charts as the UK’s favourite junk food with crisps coming in second place, according to a new YouGov poll commissioned by World Cancer Research Fund. The survey comes as the cancer prevention charity launches Dump the Junk’. A campaign which encourages people to give up their favourite junk food, or altogether, for the month of June.

World Cancer Research Fund asked the public what their favourite junk food is, how often they eat junk food on a weekly basis and how much money they spend per person on junk food in a week.

While chocolate was a clear favourite for women (28%), for men, chocolate and crisps tied for first place (16% for both). Cake and pizza came in third and fourth place for women and biscuits and pizza where follow up contenders for men. Chips (5%) and burgers (5%) lagged far behind as favourites.

Nearly 3 in 5 (59%) people eat junk food three times or more a week and only 4% said that they don’t eat junk food in a typical week.

70% of UK adults, said that they spend up to £21 a week on junk food. Over 55s spend the least amount on junk food with just over 2 in 5 (43%) saying they spend less than £5 a week on it and a further 13% spend nothing.

WCRF’s Dump the Junk campaign

World Cancer Research Fund is promoting its campaign so that people can start to feel the benefits from eating a healthier diet, as well as raise funds for cancer prevention. Those taking part in Dump the Junk can ask friends and family to sponsor them or donate the money they save from cutting out junk food.

Eating junk food, such as chocolate, crisps and chips from a takeaway, on a regular basis can contribute to weight gain. One of the biggest risk factors for cancer is living with overweight and obesity and there’s strong evidence that it increases the risk of developing several types of cancer, including bowel, breast and liver cancer.

For cancer prevention, one of World Cancer Research Fund’s recommendations is to have a balanced diet, rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains such as brown rice and wholemeal bread, and pulses like beans and lentils.

Sarah Ann Macklin, Registered Nutritionist and Live Well Be Well Founder, comments:

“It’s essential to make healthy choices to support our physical and mental wellbeing – junk food is low in nutrients as well as high in calories, fat, and sugar. These unhealthy ingredients can contribute to weight gain, obesity, and other health problems, including cancer. By giving up junk food, we can improve our overall health and longevity, which is why I’m supporting Dump the Junk.”

James Radford, from Northamptonshire, has pledged to take part in Dump the Junk this June, says:

“I’m always on the road with my job so it’s easy for me to stop off for some fried chicken. However, having a healthy diet is so important to me because I feel so much better physically and mentally. I just want to get up, get out and seize the day more. That’s why I’m going to take on the challenge and give up all takeaway foods this June!”

Tricia George, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, has given up junk food says:

“It’s definitely not easy to give up, but some of my top tips are: don’t buy junk food in the first place because relying on self-will doesn’t always work. If it’s not readily available, you’ll find a healthier option to snack on, and if you can, try making your own snacks where possible – this allows me to control the amount of sugar and butter added. You too can learn to say, ‘no thank you’ when you’re offered junk food.” 

Hannah Burgess, Community and Events Fundraising Manager at World Cancer Research Fund, says:

“Most of us indulge in food that’s not good for us from time to time, and our poll shows that despite cost-of-living concerns, lots of us still reach for a takeaway or bar of chocolate – which I have to admit is my favourite junk food. We know that giving up junk food won’t be easy, however, whatever positive changes people are able to do is a great starting point for making healthier changes to their diet. You’ll also be raising vital funds for cancer prevention research.”


For more information and media enquiries contact: Marianne Kellner, PR & Media Officer, World Cancer Research Fund at / 07717131883

Notes to editors

About Dump the Junk

This June World Cancer Research Fund is asking the people to give up junk food this June to help prevent cancer and save lives. Whether its sugary drinks and sweet treats to regular takeaways, give up junk food between 1 to 30 June and help raise funds for cancer prevention.

For more information on how to sign up to Dump the Junk, click here.

Junk food

Junk food is typically higher in calories, fat, salt and sugar, but have very few of the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, such as fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Examples of junk food includes cakes, crisps, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, and fast foods such as burgers, chips, pizza and fried chicken.

Earlier this year a study from Imperial College London, co-funded by World Cancer Research Fund, found that there may be an increased risk of cancer with high consumption of ultra-processed foods. The study is the first of its kind and the most comprehensive assessment of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk. It adds to the growing evidence linking these foods to cancer and other health conditions.

Reducing cancer risk

40 per cent of cancer cases could be prevented if we all had a healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, eating a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight, and staying safe in the sun.

It’s not possible to show an individual’s risk of cancer, but to help reduce the possibility of a future cancer diagnosis, we recommend people avoid high-calorie junk foods such as chocolate, cakes, biscuits and burgers.

About the poll

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size for the 2023 results was 2,090 adults.

The surveys were carried out online between 2nd and 3rd May 2023. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Junk food options given to those polled were: crisps, fried chicken, ready-made/ takeaway chips, ready-made/ takeaway burgers, ready-made/ takeaway pizza, chocolates, sweets, biscuits, cake, sugary drinks, other, don’t know, not applicable I don’t have a favourite junk food.

About World Cancer Research Fund

World Cancer Research Fund examines how diet, nutrition, body weight and physical activity affect your risk of developing and surviving cancer. As part of an international network of charities, we have been funding life-saving research, influencing global public health policy, and educating the public since 1982. While society continues searching for a cure, our prevention and survival work is helping people live longer, happier, healthier lives – free from the devastating effects of cancer. and Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn.

Preventing cancer. Saving lives