A new survey released by the British Nutrition Foundation shows that concern about ultra-processed foods has increased. But some ultra-processed foods can be part of a balanced diet and can help busy people get healthier meals on the table.
The recent survey, which was carried out by YouGov, looked at British adults’ views on processed foods and was previously carried out in 2021. Compared to 2021, more people had heard of the term ‘ultra-processed food’ (46% vs 30%) and were trying to reduce these foods in their diet (33% vs 25%).
Bridget Benelam, a British Nutrition Foundation spokesperson explained, “For many of us when we get home after a busy day, foods like baked beans, wholemeal toast, fish fingers or ready-made pasta sauces are an affordable way to get a balanced meal on the table quickly. These may be classed as ultra-processed but can still be part of a healthy diet.”
The top 5 foods that people thought were classed as ultra-processed from a list in the recent survey were:
However, fewer people classified baked beans (9%), low-fat fruit yogurts (10%), ice cream (14%), and sliced bread (19%) as ultra-processed.
The survey also found that, while most people agreed that it was better to cook from scratch than to use processed foods (68%), nearly half agreed that a healthy balanced diet can include some processed foods (49%) and that processed foods can be convenient to save time preparing food (49%).
Benelam continued “It’s great if you can cook from scratch when you have time, but I know for me, as a working parent it’s often not an option. We need to make healthy eating easier and more affordable, not more difficult and expensive. Choosing healthier processed foods is one way that can help people fit healthy eating into their lives.”
All figures are from YouGov Plc. The research has been conducted by YouGov on behalf of the British Nutrition Foundation.
2023 Survey (repeated from 2021): Total sample size was 2323 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd – 23rd March 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
The British Nutrition Foundation have published a position statement, reviewing the available evidence on ultra-processed foods and health and setting out the Foundation’s view available here: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/news/2023/position-statement-on-the-concept-of-ultra-processed-foods-upf/.