Following today’s (17 March 2016) launch of the new Eatwell Guide by Public Health England (PHE), a healthy diet should now include more fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates and have fewer sugary foods and drinks.
The new Eatwell Guide shows the revised proportions of the food groups that help us meet official advice and nutrient requirements.
The guide replaces the eatwell plate and has been refreshed to reflect updated dietary recommendations, including those on sugar, fibre and starchy carbohydrates from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report on Carbohydrates and Health in 2015.
There is greater prominence for fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates, preferably wholegrain, in the new guide. PHE recommends consuming 30 grams of fibre a day, the same as eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and 1 large baked potato with the skin on. Currently people only consume around 19 grams of fibre per day, less than 2 thirds the recommendation.
Sugary soft drinks have been removed from the image and foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar have been moved to the periphery of the guide, reflecting advice that they are not an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet. Adults should have less than 6 grams of salt and 20 grams of saturated fat for women or 30 grams for men a day.
PHE also advises limiting the consumption of sugar, for example from sugary drinks and confectionery. Adults have twice as much sugar as is recommended and children have over 3 times. Everyone over the age of 11 should consume less than 30 grams or 7 cubes of sugar a day.
The advice that only a 150ml serving of fruit juice counts as 1 of the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day is now extended to include smoothies. This is in acknowledgement of the high sugar content of smoothies. The Eatwell Guide now displays drinks recommendations which make clear that adults should be aiming to have 6 to 8 glasses of fluids per day ideally from water, lower fat milks, and unsweetened tea or coffee.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said:
Our new Eatwell Guide helps people to understand what a healthy balanced diet looks like. The evidence shows that we should continue to base our meals on starchy carbohydrates, especially wholegrain, and eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day.
On the whole, cutting back on foods and drinks that are high in saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories would improve our diets, helping to reduce obesity and the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and some cancers. A smoothie, together with fruit juice, now only counts as 1 of your 5 A Day and should be drunk with a meal as it’s high in sugar.
Dr Lisa Jackson, representing the Association for Nutrition and chair of the external reference groups supporting PHE in this work, said:
As a GP it is important that I have engaging and meaningful resources like the Eatwell Guide to support my patients to eat more healthily. I encourage professionals helping people to follow a healthy, balanced diet to use the new Eatwell Guide which will help reduce their risk of developing long term illnesses such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
The Eatwell Guide depicts a healthy, balanced diet, which includes:
- eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- basing meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
- having some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
- eating some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
- choosing unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
- drinking 6 to 8 cups or glasses of fluid a day
If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt and sugar then have these less often and in small amounts.
The Government 5 A Day logo has been refreshed and the criteria for use on smoothie products has changed to accommodate the new advice.
Dr Tedstone added:
Only one in five of us meet the 5 A Day recommendation for fruit and vegetables, which is deeply concerning. PHE has redesigned the 5 A Day logo and made it free and easier to use on packaging. This will help consumers make healthier choices.
With all fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables counting, there is no better time to improve access to the new logo. Those wishing to use the logo can find out more on the PHE page on GOV.UK.
- Based on consumer research the Eatwell Guide emphasises how much we should be eating and drinking, updates food groups to reflect foods we need to eat more and less of and, for the first time, includes messages on hydration. The Eatwell Guide also includes messages on labelling to help people choose, cook and eat healthier options.
- An orange border featuring the energy requirements for men and women in the Eatwell Guide has been used to reinforce the message that all food and drinks consumed contribute to total energy intake.
- A front of pack nutrition label has been added to the Eatwell Guide to respond to consumer comments regarding the lack of guidance on choosing foods lower in fat, salt and sugars when shopping.
PHE established two external reference groups to support the refresh of the eatwell plate and to consider extending the 5 A Day logo to include composite foods.
PHE collaborated with the Carbon Trust to assess the impact of changes in recommendations within the Eatwell Guide on sustainability considerations.
- Teachers, local authorities, non-governmental organisations, the food and drink industry, key community figures and health professionals including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dietitians are encouraged to use the Eatwell Guide to help the nation improve their diet.
- Eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day will help to lower your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers and is based on advice from the World Health Organization, which recommends eating a minimum of 400 grams of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day.
- There are significant benefits for food and drink manufacturers to adopt the new 5 A Day logo including:
- the licence is now free and has been revised to make it easier to use on pack.
- the logo may mean increased sales for your product.
- the logo is now consistent with the Change4life brand so your product can be associated with a successful healthy lifestyle campaign.
- It is acknowledged that movement to the new 5 A Day logo won’t happen immediately, but we will expect to see changes within the coming 6 months.
SACN recommends that the dietary reference value for total carbohydrate should be maintained at a population average of approximately 50% of dietary energy. Carbohydrates are a good source of energy and SACN recommends that we should continue to base our diets on them. Their report concludes that total carbohydrate intakes at the current recommended levels show no association with the incidence of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, glycaemia or colo-rectal cancer.
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