Half of food bought by UK families is ‘ultra-processed’

Food made in factories with industrial ingredients and additives now make up half of the food bought by UK households. We buy more ultra-processed foods than any other European country.

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A Guardian exclusive quoted research from a study of 19 European countries published this month in a special issue of the journal Public Health Nutrition.

The research shows that ‘real food’ has been replaced by sugary and salty snacks, cereals, industrially made bread, ready meals and sweetened drinks. UK households buy more ultra-processed food than any others in Europe, amounting to 50.7% of the diet. Germany comes second, on 46.2% and then Ireland on 45.9%.

Sustain’s Children’s Food Campaign works to improve the food environment that children grow up in.


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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.