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The British are a nation in a state of worry about the food that they eat – although men and women think very differently about their diet.

A new survey lays bare our attitude towards food and health – showing that more than half of the population are not happy with their weight.

The data, from Fysiqal Nutrition, actually shows there’s a marked gender difference in this regard – with 59 per cent of women unhappy with their weight but 55 per cent of men satisfied with what they see on the scales.

Big variation between different towns and cities

There’s also a big variety of opinion when it comes to happiness across the UK too.
The following league table shows cities in order of how unhappy their citizens are with their weight:

 1. Cardiff – 70 per cent unhappy

2. Nottingham 66.7 per cent

3. Glasgow – 58.3 per cent

4. Southampton – 55.1 per cent

5. Norwich – 54.2 per cent

6. Plymouth – 52.8 per cent

7. (=)Belfast/Leeds – 51.6 per cent

8. (=)Sheffield/Birmingham – 50 per cent

9. London – 49.8 per cent

10.  Manchester – 47.6 per cent

11.  Brighton – 45.5 per cent

12.  Bristol – 44.7 per cent

13.  Newcastle – 44.1 per cent

14.  Liverpool – 43.9 per cent

15.  Edinburgh – 42.5 per cent

Here we can see that there’s a big gap between the top and bottom of the list – with a particularly stark contrast between the Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Worrying about what we eat

The food we eat is something we think a lot about – with 52 per cent of people saying they worry about this at least some of the time. Indeed, almost one in eight people say they are constantly concerned with the food they are consuming.

On this we can see a big age difference. One in five 16-24 year olds say they ‘always’ worry about the food they are eating, whereas 60 per cent of over-55s say they either rarely or never do so.

In total, 63 per cent of women either ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ worry about their food – contrasting with 36% of men who gave the same answers.

What’s on our mind when we buy food?

Given this general state of unhappiness about weight and concern over food, it’s interesting to see how this translates into our attitude towards buying food.

The survey found that 41.2 per cent of people never look at nutritional information when they are shopping for food – although this figure is higher among the over-35s and men than it is younger people and women.

With that in mind, almost a third of people – 29 per cent – say they never look to avoid anything in the food and drink that they buy. Yet 26.8 per cent of people do say that they try to avoid sugary food and drink – with fat (15 per cent) and salt (12.1 per cent) also a concern for some shoppers and only 7.8 per cent saying that they avoid buying high-calorie foods. Indeed, only 3.7 per cent of men say they ever worry about the calorie count of their food and drink.

Here, the generational gap is significant. We can see that 16-24 year olds have the sweetest tooth and are the least likely age group to avoid sugary foods (only 20 per cent do so).

Women are much more likely to try out a diet

So, if we’re unhappy about our weight then it’s time to turn to a diet, right? Here we can see a massive gender difference. 70 per cent of men polled said that they had never tried any diet – which is in sharp contrast with the responses of women in which 57 per cent had tried at least one diet.

The diets most likely to have been tried by women are as follows:

  • Weight Watchers – 19.2 per cent
  • ‘Very low calorie’ – 18.5 per cent
  • Slimming World – 18.1 per cent
  • SlimFast – 10.8 per cent
  • Atkins – 9.6 per cent
  • 5:2 – 6.3 per cent
  • Vegan – 5.6 per cent
  • Gluten Free – 4.6 per cent
  • Cambridge - 2.8 per cent
  • Paleo – 1.5 per cent

Would you want to know what’s in your restaurant food?

Knowing what’s in the food we buy in a supermarket is one thing, but what about when you’re in a restaurant?

People are torn over whether they’d like to know the nutritional information of what’s on the menu when they’re eating out – with exactly half of respondents saying that they think this is a good idea. Almost a third – 29 per cent – would rather not know, while the rest are unsure.

Again, there’s a big gender split here – with 55 per cent of women saying they’d like to see more nutritional information on menus but only 42 per cent of men agree.

Younger people are also keener to be ‘in the know’ when eating out – with 57.1 per cent saying they would like to see more information on restaurant menus as opposed to 42 per cent of over 55s.

A nation split over exercise

So, do our diet-conscious Brits don their gym gear or running shoes to help themselves feel better?

Here we can see a mixed bag. The survey revealed that 22 per cent of people exercise at least once a day – but 24 per cent of people say that they never take part in any exercise at all.

The 25-34 age bracket is the most active – with only 14.5 per cent of people not doing any exercise – whereas almost a third of the over 55s do not exercise.


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Worried about food: What Brits think about what they eat
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