The influential 2022 Broken Plate report, published by The Food Foundation, reveals as never before the dangerous impact of negative trends in the nation’s diet and the urgent need for a major overhaul of our food system.
The report highlights the wide range of damaging effects caused by poor nutrition and the absence of a coherent UK food policy, leading to problems that include stunted growth in our children and record-breaking levels of amputations linked to the complications of obesity.
The Broken Plate presents the strongest arguments so far for a change in the nation’s food policies to give everyone in the UK access to a healthy diet that avoids further damage to global climate and environment.
Nutrition and obesity
The authoritative research behind the report presents a bleak picture of the consequences of our broken food system.
On current trends more than 80% of children born in 2022 who survive to the age of 65 will be overweight or obese. At least one in 20 of them will already have died.
Obesity in children has risen by 50% in the past year alone, and children with obesity are more likely to grow up to have diet-related disease. Obesity adversely affects ability to learn in school, self-esteem and physical and mental health.
Poor nutrition is causing stunted growth. British five-year-olds are shorter than five-year-old populations of our European neighbours with significant height variation between poor and wealthy areas within this country.
Life-limiting amputations caused by the complications of diabetes linked to obesity have reached record levels, tragically impacting the quality of life of affected individuals and placing a huge burden on our healthcare system and the wider economy.
‘This major Food Foundation report shows that our food system is completely broken. Unhealthy food is cheap, aggressively marketed and makes people sick. Although we have had almost 700 government obesity policies in England to date, very few have led to any action. The government must stop this cycle and ensure it implements all policy proposals, including those put forward in the latest obesity strategy published in 2020.’
DR DOLLY THEIS MRC
Epidemiology Unit & Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), Cambridge University
The cost of healthy diets
Healthy, nutritious food is nearly three times more expensive than obesogenic unhealthy products, with more healthy foods costing an average of £8.51 for 1,000 calories compared with just £3.25 for 1,000 calories of less healthy foods.
Between 2021 and 2022 healthier foods became even more expensive, increasing in price by an average of 5.1% compared with 2.5% for the least healthy foods.
Excess weight costs the UK approximately £74 billion every year in direct NHS costs, lost workforce productivity and reduced life expectancy. It is one of the main factors in the 20-year gap in healthy life expectancy between the richest and poorest members of society.
One in five households would have to spend almost half their disposable income on food to achieve the government-recommended healthy diet, leaving little money for energy and other household bills. By contrast, the wealthiest fifth of the population would need to spend just 11% of their disposable income.