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Do you cheat when you eat?

Just one in 1,000 people sticks to all nine official healthy eating guidelines, a major study found.

Experts compared the diets of more than half a million Britons with the recommendations in Public Health England’s Eatwell Guide.

Fewer than one third of us meet at least five of the suggestions. And just over four in ten manage between three and four.

Worryingly, a minuscule number consistently follow all nine of the tips, which include eating less than 70g of red meat a day and slashing sugary food intake.

This is despite new evidence showing it could add years to your life.

Some of the guidelines in particular are ignored, with fewer than one in ten people consuming enough fibre.

The study found those who stuck to five or more of the nine recommendations were seven per cent less likely to die than those who followed two or fewer.

Eating five a day was enough to reduce the risk of dying early by ten per cent, the research by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Oxford found.

Currently just 29 per cent of adults and 18 per cent of children meet the daily fruit and vegetable portion recommendation.

The study is the latest evidence of how poor diets are fuelling the obesity crisis.

It also highlights how healthy diets are important in preventing climate change by cutting emissions. Following at least five of the guidelines can reduce greenhouse gases by 30 per cent.

The research will raise further questions about the effectiveness of Public Health England, which is being scrapped after it was blamed for a series of coronavirus fiascos. 

Professor Alan Dangour, the study’s author, said: ‘We urge the Government to develop a stronger joined-up approach to tackle the impending health and environmental crises.’

Professor Andrew Salter, from the University of Nottingham, added: ‘Perhaps one of the most remarkable findings is the low level of adherence to the guidelines currently in the UK.’ 

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: ‘The challenge remains to help more people follow this advice.’

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