Over 20 leading NGOs support official Eatwell Guide to healthy eating

7 July 2016

Today over 20 leading health, consumer and professional organisations, including the UK Health Forum, have released a joint statement in support of the government’s Eatwell Guide, which has come in for some recent criticism since its publication in March 2016.

The Eatwell Guide is the official guide to healthy eating in the UK and aims to translate nutrient recommendations into simple information using language that the public can easily understand. Providing this clarity to the public is important because of the significant burden diet-related diseases place on families, the NHS and wider society. Conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, obesity, common cancers, chronic liver disease and tooth decay are highly prevalent.

Within the UK, 100% of 11-18 year olds are eating too much sugar and 84% of children are failing to meet the 5 a day fruit and vegetable target.1 One in five children in England and 6 in 10 adults in the UK are overweight or obese.2 If current trends continue, 7 in 10 adults are forecast to be overweight or obese by 2035, leading to an extra £2.5 billion in NHS costs alone.3

The NGO statement endorses the Eatwell Guide and welcomes its new messages on sustainability. It calls on the government to put in place a comprehensive range of policies which can support people to meet the new guidelines. It also calls on government to commit to regularly revising the guidelines in line with new health and sustainability science and research.

Commenting on the statement, Dr Modi Mwatsama, Registered Nutritionist and Director of Policy and Global Health at the UK Health Forum said:

“Studies can sometimes have conflicting advice which leads to public confusion. The role of the Eatwell Guide is to review the evidence as a whole and provide simple messages on how to eat healthily and prevent conditions such as obesity, common cancers and tooth decay.

The Guide is based on thorough reviews of the evidence by the independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition which advises government. 600 research papers were included in the carbohydrates and health evidence review which informed the latest revisions to the Guide.”

Sarah Toule, Head of Health Information at World Cancer Research Fund, said:

“The new Eatwell Guide is very similar to our dietary recommendations for cancer prevention. This includes eating a wide variety of wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and pulses, reducing processed high calorie foods and drinks as well as limiting red meat and avoiding processed meat. Having a healthy diet helps reduce the risk of developing a number of different cancers.”

Sue Dibb, Coordinator of the Eating Better Alliance said:

“There is growing evidence that our current eating patterns are not sustainable for our health or the planet. The government is to be congratulated on being among the small number of countries worldwide to have included sustainability considerations in healthy eating messages. Suitable policies to support these recommendations should now be implemented.”

Robin Ireland, CEO, Health Equalities Group said:

The Eatwell Guide was welcomed here in the North West as a very valuable resource in helping to address some of the sometimes conflicting and confusing advice currently prevalent around food and nutrition. The Guide is supporting us in our work around food policy and healthy eating amongst communities who often suffer the impact of poor diets.

Jenny Rosborough, Action on Sugar Campaign Manager and Registered Nutritionist and Sonia Pombo, CASH Campaign Manager and Registered Nutritionist jointly said:

“Action on Sugar and Consensus Action on Salt and Health support Public Health England's Eatwell Guide and the NGO consensus statement. It is crucial that public health professionals collaborate to reinforce evidenced-based nutrition and health messages to educate the public. Inconsistencies in nutrition advice is confusing and it's important that the public don't lose trust in nutrition experts.”

Ends.

Notes to editors:

Download the joint statement in support of the Government's Eatwell Guide

Contact:

Dr Modi Mwatsama, Registered Nutritionist, Director of Policy and Global Health T: +44 (0) 20 7832 6920. Email: modi.mwatsama@ukhealthforum.org.uk

Professor Paul Lincoln, Chief Executive Officer, UK Health Forum. T: +44 (0) 20 7832 6920. Email: paul.lincoln@ukhealthforum.org.uk

Competing interests:

Dr Mwatsama represented the views of the public health community as a member of the Expert Reference Group which oversaw the review of Public Health England’s Eatwell Guide.

Useful sources of information:

  1. Full joint statement will be available from 00:01 7 July 2016 on the UK Health Forum website: www.ukhealthforum.org.uk
  2. The Eatwell Guide and healthy eating recommendations can be accessed here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide
  3. NHS choices comprehensive advice on healthy eating can be accessed here: www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/Goodfood/Pages/goodfoodhome.aspx

1 National Diet and Nutrition Survey: assessment of dietary sodium in adults in England, 2014. www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-diet-and-nutrition-survey-assessment-of-dietary-sodium-in-adults-in-england-2014
2 Public Health England Obesity: Adult and child UK prevalence and trends. 2016. www.noo.org.uk/NOO_about_obesity 
3 Cancer Research UK and UK Health Forum: Tipping the Scales – Why preventing obesity makes economic sense. 2016. www.cancerresearchuk.org/sites/default/files/tipping_the_scales_-_cruk_full_report11.pdf