A healthy diet can help to support good physical and mental health, whilst a poor diet has been linked to a number of long term illnesses including cancer, coronary heart disease, excess weight , hypertension (high blood pressure) and type 2 diabetes.
Nutrition advice advocates that balance is the key to a healthy diet, and eating a wide variety of food and drink in the right proportions will help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The current guidelines for healthy eating promote a diet based on starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta; plenty of fruit and vegetables; some protein-rich food, such as meat, fish and lentils; and reduced levels of fat, salt, sugar and alcohol.
Measuring levels of healthy eating is not straightforward. There is no routine monitoring of grocery purchases by the government, and supermarkets do not publish the information they gather. As such, healthy eating prevalence is estimated from national or local surveys with the latest estimates (Active Lives Survey, 2015/16) suggesting that just 52.9% of adults (aged 16+) in Lancashire-12 eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, significantly below the England national estimate (56.8%).
At a district level, Hyndburn (50.2%), Pendle (46.3%), Preston (51.0%) and Rossendale (48.9%) are estimated to have adult (16+) healthy eating prevalence significantly below England, as are the neighbouring unitary authorities of Blackburn with Darwen (46.0%) and Blackpool (49.0%).
The Pupil Attitude Questionnaire gives us an insight into the eating habits of primary school children (Years 4 & 6) in Lancashire-12, with the latest figures covering the 2016/17 academic year. Asked whether they liked eating fruit and vegetables, 79.9% of Year-4 and 83.3% of Year-6 children said they either really liked or quite liked eating them. With females found to be significantly more likely to say they "liked or quite liked" eating them than males and Year-6 children significantly more likely than Year-4 children to like eating them.
Asked if they would choose a healthy food option, 79.3% of Year-4 and 78.7% of Year-6 children said they would, with just under 20% saying they wouldn't. Females were again found to be significantly more likely than males to choose the healthy option.
In 2016, Public Health England calculated that the total number of fast food outlets across England was 47,928, of which 1,282 were based in the Lancashire-12 area. This gives the area a crude outlet concentration rate of 121.9 per 100,000 population, significantly above the England rate (87.8).
At a district level, Burnley (151.2), Hyndburn (142.1), Pendle (131.3), Rossendale (124.3) and Preston (125.3) were all found to have significantly higher concentration rates than the England average. The two neighbouring authorities of Blackburn with Darwen (128.1) and Blackpool (192.9) also recorded rates significantly above the National average.
Looking at the link between deprivation and fast food outlets revealed that in Lancashire-12 there are significantly more fast food outlets in the lower-layer super output areas (LSOAs) that fall within national deprivation quintile one, the most deprived quintile, than each of the other deprivation quintiles (Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015).
In 2015 Lancashire County Council conducted a comprehensive lifestyle questionnaire as part of their Health behaviours joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA), with over 13,000 responses from across the Lancashire-12 area. On the subject of diet and nutrition, the survey found just under a fifth (17%) of respondents eat fast food or take away meals at least once a week.
For further information about food & nutrition and healthy weight, please see the 'Healthy weight in Lancashire' report on our healthy weight page.
Page updated February 2018