Amanda is Healthy Food Guide's nutrition editor with a degree in nutrition and a post-grad diploma in dietetics. She is a member of the British Dietetic Association, The Nutrition Society and The Guild of Food...

Our eating habits might be changing in a positive way, but despite being told that we need to eat five portions daily, we’re still not getting enough fruit and veg. HFG nutrition editor Amanda Ursell investigates the issue.

The percentage of people glugging down soft, sugary drinks has fallen over the past nine years, according to a new analysis of National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) figures released this week.

The NDNS data compared four-day food diaries from the 2008/9 survey with ones from 2016/17. The good news is these showed adults, teenagers and children are all getting a lower percentage of their calories from sugar.

However, while things are certainly heading in the right direction, it’s not yet time to take our foot off the pedal when it comes to nudging our eating habits towards a healthier profile.

We still slurp over 3.6 billion bottles of sugary drinks a year, according to Public Health England (PHE), and all age groups are still managing to eat and drink their way through double the maximum free sugars recommended.

Image of fizzy drinks
Despite the sugar tax, fizzy drinks are still a huge culprit for our unhealthy diets


Meat consumption also saw a fall, a trend that may well increase with the recent rise in popularity of plant-based eating and vegan lifestyles. Average meat consumption is now at 62g a day compared with 76g a day nine years ago, says PHE. These figures are, of course, averages so there will still be a proportion of people consuming over the 70g daily maximum. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting and positive dietary shift.

But we’re STILL not getting our five-a-day!

Amongst these encouraging trends, however, lurks some data that stubbornly refuses to change. Adults still consume an average of only four servings of fruit and vegetables daily – and children come in even lower at around 2.8 portions daily. We should, as we all know, be aiming for five portions a day minimum.

Today’s launch of a brilliant new ad campaign (above) aimed to encourage children to eat more fruit and veg could be a turning point. The Veg Power, which will air alongside mainstream ITV programmes, is supported by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and conceived by The Food Foundation.

The idea behind the campaign is to hammer the five-a-day message home by persuading children to gobble up their veggies to stop them invading the world… It could be the much-needed imaginative push that helps to solve this difficult issue.

Watch out for #eatthemtodefeatthem and check out The Veg Power campaign here.

Try getting all of your five-a-day in one meal with one of these veg-packed recipes!