Last reviewed 21 June 2022

A new survey conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) for its tenth annual Healthy Eating Week has revealed confusion across the UK about the nutritional contents of some common foods, including plant-based foods.

During Healthy Eating Week, which ran from 13 to 17 June 2022, the BNF released findings from a new survey that showed widespread confusion among people of all ages about which foods do and do not count towards “five a day”, or which provide certain nutrients such as fibre and protein.

The survey found that only 38% of all British adults and 23% of older children know that carrots contain fibre, while only 60% of secondary school children and 36% of primary school children believe that wholemeal bread is a source of fibre; 79% of adults, 91% of secondary school children and 70% of primary school children said that chicken provides protein, but only half of all adults, 46% of older children and 29% of younger children think that chickpeas are a source of protein, despite the fact that canned chickpeas are a rich source of protein.

The survey also showed that many people do not currently eat, or have never tried, a range of plant foods such as beans, peas and lentils, which provide essential nutrients like protein and fibre.

This year, adults and children participated in a series of daily challenges linked to the theme “Eat Well for You and the Planet”. BNF Science Director Sara Stanner said: “Lack of knowledge means people are less empowered to make informed choices, and achieving a healthy diet, with a good balance of the right types of foods, is more difficult if you don’t know which key nutrients the foods that we eat provide.”

This year’s Healthy Eating Week challenged people across the UK to focus on:

  • fibre for meals and snacks

  • get at least five fruit and/or vegetables a day and put plenty on your plate

  • stay hydrated, filling up from the tap

  • vary protein intake by being more creative

  • reduce food waste by knowing your portions.

Government advice is for everyone to eat more plant-based foods because it is good for us and for the environment. The BNF said that, from varying our protein sources to increasing our fibre intake and reducing food waste, there is a wide range of ways people in the UK can adjust their eating habits for the benefit of themselves and the planet.

Eating plenty of fibre as part of a healthy, balanced diet is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer and choosing fibre-rich foods may also help people to feel fuller for longer, which can help support weight management. The BNF said adults are recommended to have 30g of fibre each day but most people in the UK do not get enough, with only 19.7g on average being consumed.

More details about the BNF’s work can be found at www.nutrition.org.uk