Largest UK Health Survey

Healthy Eating & Nutrition News

• The ONUK survey of 37,000 people is more than twenty times larger than the Food Standards Agency’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey on 1,724 people, published 2003.
• The scientific board of advisors include professors of medicine, nutrition and clinical science.
• All results reported are highly statistically significant at the 95% level of confidence

ONUK Survey Redefines Healthy Eating

Britain’s Largest Ever Health Survey shows that the majority of people in Britain today are ‘vertically ill’; they are living in a grey area between diagnosed disease and true wellness. They think it’s all part of 21st century living, but it needn’t be. Simple diet changes would give them optimal health.

We are all told to eat a ‘well balanced’ diet but what does this actually mean? The shocking results of Britain’s largest ever survey of over 37,000 people’s health and diet, conducted by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION) and presented to Government at the House of Commons on Wednesday 27 October, shows just how many people are literally digging their own graves with a knife and fork and have little idea what a well balanced diet really means.

The first part of the ONUK study, based on a comprehensive web-based MyNutrition questionnaire, investigated the state of people’s health in Britain.

Only 6% were in ‘optimal health’, while 44% were in poor health, with frequent low energy (80%), constipation (81%),high stress (75%), PMS (women 64%), abdominal bloating (64%), frequent colds (50%), headaches or migraine (46%) and depression (46%) and other common symptoms.

“The survey shows that most people are ‘vertically’ ill. Still upright, but not feeling great”, said Patrick Holford, founder of ION. “Doctors deal with sick people, the ‘horizontally ill’, but what the ONUK survey shows is that most people are living with low energy, aches and pains attributing them to 21st century life when they are preventable with simple diet changes.”

What makes a diet unhealthy? The second part of the ONUK survey defined what kind of diet was associated with health. The results, shown overleaf, show that the worst foods for health are sugar and caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee and cola), followed by red meat, wheat and dairy products (milk and cheese). The best foods for health were fruit and veg, nuts and seeds, oily fish and drinking water. People who drank eight glasses of water a day were twice as likely to be in optimal health. While the report endorses the Government’s ‘5 a day’ campaign, it found that the healthiest people ate 8 or more servings of fruit and vegetables.

What makes a well balanced diet? The negative effects on health of eating sugar and sugary snacks was five times worse than the positive effects of eating fruit and vegetables. “The ONUK survey shows that government campaigns to curb sugar and caffeine consumption will do much more for the nation’s health than just eating more fruit and vegetables. It also shows that the conventional wisdom that a well balanced diet should contain plenty of dairy products and bread, is wrong” said Holford, whose survey found that the healthiest people were the lowest consumers of wheat and dairy products. Amidst growing fears that high dairy consumption is linked to increased rates of breast and prostate cancer, and recent discoveries that 1 in 100 adults are seriously allergic to gluten in wheat, the ONUK survey results confirm what nutritionists have been saying for years. Holford’s book, corroborated by the survey results, the New Optimum Nutrition Bible, extols a diet closer to that consumed in Asia, where breast and prostate cancer are virtually unheard of, with less meat, more fish and very little milk and wheat, substituting oats, rice, plus other grains. He also recommends eating more beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.

What results can be achieved by changing your diet? While the survey showed an immensely strong association between diet and health, this is not the same as proving that poor diet causes poor health. So, the third part of the survey set out to change people’s nutrition and measure the results. Twenty nine members of the public, who had taken part on the ONUK survey, attended a two day 100% Health Workshop, learning all about what optimum nutrition really means, while twenty two senior managers received one-to-one consultations with a nutritional therapist. Three months later their health was reassessed and showed a massive improvement. Energy levels had gone up by 25%, the majority of women no longer reported PMS and most of those who were overweight lost weight without trying.

Nutrition Study , statistics, research