Sustain member the British Dietetic Association is calling on the NHS to provide support to help people eat more healthily and reduce the burden of conditions caused by unhealthy diets following new survey data.
The National and Diet Nutrition Survey shows that no age group meets dietary recommendations despite two thirds of British people thinking advice on healthy eating is clear.
Nearly 40% of those asked said they would appreciate access to a registered dietitian for dietary advice and support. Despite this, the NHS currently employs fewer than 7,000 dietitians, meaning many people have to wait weeks to see a dietitian when referred by a GP or consultant.
BDA Chair Caroline Bovey BEM believes dietitians have the behaviour change skills and nutritional expertise to support people to improve their diet in a practical and sustainable way:
“Dietetic services across the UK are doing an amazing job but they could be doing so much more. Bad diet is the single biggest lifestyle factor in determining ill health –even more than smoking – so it is ridiculous that we have so few health professionals who specialise in diet and nutrition. This survey shows there is significant demand from the public - governments and commissioners need to ensure they are meeting this need.”
The same survey showed most people continue to get their information about healthy eating from TV shows and social media rather than from expert, trustworthy sources such as dietitians or doctors.
BDA Spokesperson Linia Patel RD says “It isn’t surprising that people are getting so much of their advice from online and on the telly, but the problem is this advice is often not based on scientific evidence. The internet now means we’ve got access to more information than ever before, and it can be difficult to sift the fact from the fiction.”
While there are good sources of information online, such as NHS UK, Linia is often concerned by what she sees. “Some advice given online is at best incorrect and at worst outright dangerous. This is why it is so important that more people are able to access the services of a dietitian who will use the latest scientific evidence to help you find the best and healthiest way of eating for you.”
Diabetes and malnutrition crisis
These findings come at a time when more people are suffering from diet and lifestyle related conditions than ever before. The number of people diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled in the past two decades and more than 4.7 million people now have diabetes, 90% of whom have type 2 which is related to lifestyle factors.
Statistics also show that more people than ever are suffering the effects of malnutrition, with elderly people particularly affected. Over three million people a year are suffering the effects of not eating enough, with 1.3 million of those being over 65. It’s estimated that 30-42% of patients admitted to care homes are at risk of malnutrition.
Better Food Britain
Better Food Britain: We want everyone to be able to enjoy food that is good for our health, produced in a way that supports good livelihoods, reduced waste and greenhouse gas emissions, high animal welfare and restoration of nature. Find out how.
Sustain member FareShare welcomes the news that so many businesses are engaging with the issue of...
Sustain member LEAF report that there were over 230,000 visitors to their Open Farm Sunday...
The Future Generation Commissioner for Wales wants views on how to shape Wales for the future.
On 19 June 2019 City to Sea are asking the nation to prevent plastic pollution by switching...
Sustain members welcome the discount supermarket's new system to help shoppers know the welfare...
The Advertising Standards Authority has found Ben and Jerry's Moophoria ads broke rules...
An investigation by Sustain member Friends of the Earth finds major UK supermarkets are stocking...
Responding to the prime minister's announcement that the UK should be net zero emissions by...
The UK government and devolved administrations are seeking views on the proposal to introduce...
Organic UK is helping Londoner’s taste the benefits of organic with free taster breakfasts on...
The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA
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.