A recent AHDB survey has found that the cost-of-living crisis is making our diets less healthy. So, what are the real benefits of eating a balanced, meat and dairy-inclusive diet?
Health experts are warning that the increased cost-of-living pressures could lead to consumers missing out on key nutrients, such as Vitamin B12 and iron, due to a lack of balance in their diet.
Concerns have been raised after an AHDB survey found that 33% of respondents agreed that their diet is less healthy, due to the rising cost-of-living. While a Public First study found that 28% of consumers are eating less meat to try and save money.
As such, award-winning dietician Priya Tew, food security expert professor Nigel Scollan, and NHS doctor and author Emily MacDonagh are speaking out in support of the AHDB We Eat Balanced campaign.
The campaign is returning on Wednesday, September 7, to inform consumers of the importance of eating a healthy and balanced diet that includes red meat and dairy.
“Along with dairy products, meat is also a natural source of B12, which is an essential nutrient that helps to not only reduce tiredness and fatigue but also to protect our immune system,” said Ms Tew.
“B12 can also not naturally be found in foods of plant origin, which could become more challenging for those facing increased pressure on their household food budgets.”
According to National Diet and Nutrition Survey data, almost half of young women and girls, aged 11 to 18, suffer from low intakes of iron, with one in 10 living with low iron status. Having a low iron intake also affects a quarter of young women aged 19 to 25, while one in 20 have a low iron status.
“Meat contains up to nine micronutrients and milk contains seven, some of which can be difficult to obtain from other food sources and particular fractions of the population may be exposed to deficiencies including younger females (iron) and the elderly (Vitamin B12 and protein – sarcopenia),” said professor Scollan.
“The We Eat Balanced campaign highlights the importance of eating a balanced diet and within it, focuses on the value meat and dairy can play in people’s diets and emphasises their role in providing natural sources of these key nutrients.”
“The fact that so many women and girls are already affected by low iron levels or suspect they may be iron deficient is worrying and the symptoms – including tiredness and lack of energy – can impact daily life,” said Dr MacDonagh.
“Eating a balanced diet is key to helping us get the wide range of nutrients that our bodies need, and there are plenty of cost-effective options available too.”
To mark and bolster support for the return of the AHDB We Eat Balanced campaign, pictures of Dr MacDonagh will be released alongside information and advice for consumers.
Through the campaign, “we aim to shine a spotlight on some positive food choices that consumers can make, when doing their weekly shop. Milk is such an affordable and nutrient dense food, while meats like beef, lamb and pork contain up to nine vitamins, including Vitamin B12, which you won’t find naturally in vegetables alone,” concluded AHDB marketing director Liam Byrne.