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Takeaway culture putting families’ health at risk

The National Charity Partnership is urging people across the UK to ditch unhealthy takeaways and opt for healthier, homemade ‘fakeaways’ instead.

With one in five adults and children reportedly eating a takeaway once a week (1), the National Charity Partnership between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco says such regular consumption of often high-calorie, fat and salt foods could increase people’s risk of serious ill-health.

Alex Davis, Head of Prevention for the National Charity Partnership, said: “Millions of people already live with Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease and millions more are at risk. We know a healthy diet can reduce people’s risk of developing them, but the serious amount of calories, total and saturated fat, salt and larger portion sizes of many takeaway foods means that even one or two a week can have a serious impact on our diets as a whole.

The National Charity Partnership has developed a range of ‘fakeaway takeaway’ recipes to encourage more people to cook at home from scratch and reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease, two potentially life-threatening conditions. The National Charity Partnership is also running Make, Move & Munch Clubs in six towns across the UK to help families learn about healthy eating, have fun and meet other local families.

Ms. Davis continued: “We want to help people reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes or heart disease, which is why we’re urging people to look after their health and give homemade versions of their favourite takeaways a try or bring your family along to a Make, Move & Munch Club instead. By making your own recipes from scratch you can ensure you still get tasty food but with much more nutritional value which will help to reduce your risk of developing long-term health problems.”

A survey commissioned by the National Charity Partnership shows that the most popular takeaway in the UK is Chinese food (28 per cent) followed by Indian food (19 per cent) and fish and chips (14 per cent)(2).

However, research has found that a typical Chinese takeaway, consisting of a portion of vegetable spring rolls and sweet and sour chicken with egg fried rice, provides approximately 2,184 calories (3). This accounts for 109% of the recommended daily calories for women and 87% for men in just one meal (4). Results also found portion sizes to be much larger, often enough to feed two people, as well as high levels of fat and salt throughout( 3).

Ms. Davis said the partnership’s new recipes have been developed to help people find healthy alternatives: “Our results found Chinese cuisine to be the nation’s favourite so why not swap the shop-bought options for our Prawn Spring Rolls and Sweet and Sour chicken. They can be as quick to make too, often as fast as ordering a delivery.”

According to the survey, almost one in four adults (24 per cent) prefer to order out rather than cook homemade versions of their favourite takeaways. This is despite around six in ten people saying that homemade versions cost less (61 per cent) and taste better (60 per cent) (2). 

The recipes and the Make, Move & Munch Clubs are part of the National Charity Partnership’s Let’s Do This health campaign. The clubs are specifically designed to provide families with information, skills and support to help them reduce their risk of both conditions. Each session has a different activity, which can include trying delicious new recipes through food demonstrations and cooking or having a go at simple ways to get active, with a tasty meal included every time. 

 

1. Adams J et al. (2015) ‘Frequency and socio-demographic correlates of eating meals out and take-away meals at home: cross-sectional analysis of the UK national diet and nutrition survey, waves 1–4 (2008–12)’, International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.

2. Survey of 2,000 UK adults. Mortar London. December 2016.

3. Safefood. (2012) What’s in your Chinese Takeaway. Available at http://www.safefood.eu/Publications/Research-reports/What-s-in-your-Chinese-Takeaway.aspx

4. Public Health England. (2016) Government Dietary Recommendations: Government recommendations for food energy and nutrients for males and females aged 1 – 18 years and 19+ years. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/547050/government__dietary_recommendations.pdf