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A balanced diet for a better future

Sarah Bradbury
Group Quality Director

At Tesco, we believe that healthy, sustainably produced food should be accessible to everyone – whoever they are, wherever they live, whatever their budget. It is foundational to a good start in life, supporting educational chances, improving mental wellbeing and helping prevent chronic health conditions in adult life.

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought home how important it is to keep everyone across the UK healthy, and eating a well-balanced diet is one of the best ways we can look after our health. What’s more, being a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart and circulatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

Yet many of us struggle to find balance in our diet. Few of us follow all the Eatwell Guide’s dietary recommendations – these include eating five fruit and veg per day, cutting back on sugar, saturated fat and salt, and eating more fibre.

That’s why we have worked with the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) to launch  A balanced diet for a better future, a new report which outlines how we can all enjoy a healthier, more sustainable diet.

Crucially, the recommendations in the report are good for the planet, not just our health. After all, our planet and our health are inextricably linked, and what is good for one is often good for the other.

Take the government’s Eatwell Guide, which shows how to balance the main food groups to ensure nutrient needs are met. It emphasises that most of the foods and ingredients we eat should be derived from plants – vegetables, fruits, grains – and also pulses, such as beans and lentils. The Guide also illustrates how nutrient-rich meat, dairy, eggs and fish have a part to play in smaller amounts. Environmental concerns call for the same balance. In the UK, greenhouse gas emissions from livestock account for 6% of total territorial emissions.

We must also tackle food waste, which contributes to 8% of global emissions globally. A better-balanced diet not only means changing how we eat, but also ensuring food waste is reduced and food used efficiently.

Our customers agree that their health and the health of the planet are increasingly two sides of the same coin. Seven in ten say they are actively trying to reduce their intake of meat, mainly to improve their health, while eight in ten want supermarkets to do more, to offer choices that are healthy and more sustainable.

We must help those wanting to change. Our customers say they are concerned their diets will not be nutritionally adequate if they change how they eat. They also struggle with having the inspiration and confidence to create tasty meals, and they worry about affordability.

This report not only outlines the importance of a balanced and varied diet, but also provides simple guidance on how to enjoy one. It suggests how to make healthy swaps, and shop in a more varied and sustainable way. Importantly, the report includes a meal planner which outlines how to enjoy a balanced diet. By following its recommendations, we can all help ourselves and the planet.

We know that balancing our diets is a journey, albeit an urgent one. We’re working closely with the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) charity and our Health Charity Partners – British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK – to help Tesco’s 300,000 UK colleagues and millions of UK customers rebalance their diets and feel the health benefits.

We want to help our customers enjoy a better balanced diet. We have removed over 50 billion calories from our foods compared to 2018. We will remove another 50 billion by 2024. Today, 50% of ready meals contain at least one of our 5 a day, compared to 26% in 2018. This will rise to 60% by 2024.

We have formed a ground-breaking, long-term partnership with WWF to halve the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket. We are also working towards a 300% increase in sales of meat alternatives by 2025, and aim to reduce food waste in our operations by half by 2030.

We know we cannot complete this journey alone. We are thankful for the input of our Health Charity Partners into the report, along with WWF. We are also grateful to the BNF, who co-authored the report. These partnerships are invaluable.

We must all act, and we must do so now. The way we shop, eat and drink is one of the most powerful ways everyone can bring about change both for ourselves and our planet. Every change counts, no matter how great or small. It’s an investment in a healthier, more sustainable future.

View the report

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