An AHDB survey recently found that 33% of consumers agreed that the rising cost-of-living has made their diet less healthy. While a Public First study found that one in four consumers (28%) are eating less meat to try and save money, as the cost-of-living crisis bites.
With this new data, health experts are warning consumers that changes to their diet, such as eating less meat or dairy, could leave them without the key nutrients they need to remain healthy.
“Along with dairy products, meat is a natural source of B12, which is an essential nutrient that helps not only to reduce tiredness and fatigue but also to protect our immune system,” said Priya Tew, an award-winning dietician.
“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.”
Professor Nigel Scollan, a director of the Institute for Global Food Security and professor of Animal Science at Queens University in Belfast, added: “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).”
Iron deficiencies are particularly common within young women and girls, data from a recent National Diet and Nutrition Survey found; almost half of girls and young women aged 11 to 18 suffer from low intakes of iron, with one in 10 living with low iron status. According to the survey, low iron intake also affects a quarter of young women aged 19 to 25, while one in 20 have a low iron status.
The prominence of such deficiencies, and with the cost-of-living crisis understandably impacting consumer diet choices, AHDB are bringing back their We Eat Balanced campaign – to highlight to consumers the importance of enjoying a balanced diet that includes red meat and dairy.
Supported by experts such as Ms Tew, professor Scollan, and NHS doctor and author Emily MacDonagh (who features in a series of images that will be released alongside campaign information and advice), the AHDB campaign is set for release on Wednesday, September 7.
“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,” said professor Scollan.
Dr MacDonagh added: “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.”
“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.”
Of the campaign’s comeback, AHDB’s director of marketing Liam Byrne said: “The increasing cost of living is likely to mean more people becoming reliant on lower cost foods which tend to be calorie dense and nutrient poor, further increasing diet-related disease.”
“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.”
“It’s also reassuring to know the next time you’re doing your weekly shop and choose some red meat and dairy from Britain, not only is it nutritionally superior to other food groups, but you are also choosing a product with some of the lowest carbon footprints and highest food standards in the world,” Mr Byrne concluded.