Scottish diet "not improved much" in last 15 years
30 July 2018, 13:10 | Updated: 30 July 2018, 13:11
Little progress has been made in improving the diet of Scots over the past 15 years, new research has found.
The study by Robert Gordon, Abertay and Newcastle universities found no increase in the consumption of fruit and vegetables and of oily fish over the period.
Meanwhile, the energy density of diets has increased, and while there was a small reduction in the levels of free sugars and saturated fat, they still remain too high in relation to national dietary goals.
Red and processed meat consumption did reduce over the period, with the average meeting the target.
Households in the most deprived areas of the country were found to eat significantly less fruit and vegetables, oil-rich fish and fibre than those in the wealthiest areas.
Nutritionist Dr Karen Barton, from Abertay University, said: "We found differences in dietary intake by deprivation - with households in the most deprived areas consuming significantly less fruit and vegetables, oil-rich fish and fibre than those in the least deprived areas.
"However, intakes for all groups of the population were considerably lower than the Scottish Dietary Goals.
"The fruit and vegetable recommendation in particular is well-known - five portions per day - however that awareness does not seem to translate into changes in our dietary behaviour."
Principal investigator and nutritionist Dr Lindsey Masson added: "In Scotland, 65% of adults are overweight and 29% of adults are obese.
"Therefore, it is essential that we start to reduce our consumption of foods that are high in sugar and fat - namely biscuits, confectionery, crisps, cakes, pastries, puddings and sugar-sweetened drinks.
"In addition to raising awareness of the health benefits of meeting dietary recommendations, the Scottish Government needs to support the population in achieving these dietary goals."
Researchers used food purchase data from the UK living costs and food survey to look at annual trends in food consumption and nutrient intakes between 2013 and 2015, comparing these to figures from 2001 to 2012.
The study, funded by Food Standards Scotland, was designed to monitor progress towards the Scottish Dietary Goals, last updated in 2016.