Study suggests public misunderstand health messages

In collaboration with the Press Association

Many Britons still do not fully understand advice on healthy eating, according to a new survey which found that many believe potatoes to count towards their daily vegetable intake. Two thirds of the 3,300 respondents to a Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) survey thought that potatoes could count as one of their five recommended portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This suggests that as many as 38 million people could be eating potatoes in place of healthy green vegetables. The study also found that two thirds of people were confused by the government's health and nutrition guidance, and nearly 20 per cent ignore the recommendations altogether because they feel they receive conflicting messages. Meanwhile, the latest Health Survey for England has found that only 28 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and only 40 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women meet exercise recommendations, which suggest people should take 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week. Rachel Craig, research director of the health survey, commented: "While it is encouraging that there are signs people are beginning to improve their lifestyles - eating more fruit and vegetables, exercising more, smoking less - many serious health conditions continue to increase." Cancer Research UK supports recommendations to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other health problems. Fruit and vegetables can be either fresh, frozen, dried or tinned, but potatoes do not count towards the five portions.

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