Despite years of research and warnings about health, the UK continues to have one of Europe’s most unhealthy diets.

Britons are second in the list of 23 countries when it comes to their love for biscuits, cakes, sausages, baked goods, desserts, and fizzy beverages.

Experts are concerned that many people continue to eat excessively processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt. This puts them at higher risk of developing heart disease, obesity, diabetes type 2 and other conditions.

Campaigners demanded urgent steps last night to curb Britain’s addiction to industrialised foods. Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘Action to clamp down on them has to be taken – and urgently.

‘Successive governments have overwhelmingly failed to stop manufacturers lacing their food products with sugar, fat and salt – paving the way for two-thirds of the nation to be overweight or obese.’ 

Experts fear millions are still putting themselves at risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease by bingeing on ultra-processed food laden with sugar, fat and salt.

Experts are concerned that many people continue to eat excessively processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt. This puts them at higher risk of developing heart disease, obesity, diabetes type 2 and other conditions.

The researchers compared eating habits across 23 nations including the UK

The research team compared 23 different countries’ eating patterns, which included the UK.

Nutrition expert Professor Mike Lean, of Glasgow University, said: ‘This is worrying. Many of these foods have very little micronutrients. They are also high in artificial sweeteners and sugar, as well fat and salt. Worse still, they are associated with high rates of obesity – especially in children – and the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.’

Consuming small quantities of processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, and ready-made sauces isn’t considered to be dangerous. But experts are increasingly concerned about Britons’ apparent growing dependence on them.

The study was conducted by the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp (Belgium), which analysed the European Food Safety Authority’s data about the eating habits of many millions of Europeans.

These figures recorded how much of consumers’ daily energy intake from food was provided by ultra-processed foods.

The best source of energy should be healthy and fresh foods.

Out of 23 nations Britons come second only to Swedes in their taste for sausages, cake, ready meals, biscuits, puddings and fizzy drinks.

Britons are second in the list of 23 countries when it comes to their love for biscuits, cakes, sausages, baked goods, desserts, and fizzy beverages.

The research team compared 23 different countries’ eating patterns, which included the UK.

The results, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, show that in Italy, where many people eat a healthy Mediterranean diet, ready meals, snack foods and fizzy drinks make up only about 13 per cent of each person’s daily calorie intake.

But in the UK, most people get almost 40 per cent of their daily energy intake from processed goods – marginally less than Sweden and worse than Germany and the Netherlands.

While most countries are cutting back on these foods in other parts of the world, the UK seems to have a higher intake.

Meanwhile, a separate study published this week in the journal Obesity Reviews, paints an even more alarming picture of British teenagers’ diets.

Researchers, which included experts from Imperial College London and Brazil, examined data from Mexico as well as the US, UK. The UK was worst, with ultra-processed foods making up almost 70 per cent of adolescents’ daily food intake, compared with 18 per cent in Colombia. 

In Italy, where many people eat a healthy Mediterranean diet, ready meals, snack foods and fizzy drinks make up only about 13 per cent of each person’s daily calorie intake

In Italy, where many people eat a healthy Mediterranean diet, ready meals, snack foods and fizzy drinks make up only about 13 per cent of each person’s daily calorie intake 

In the UK, most people get almost 40 per cent of their daily energy intake from processed goods

Most people in Britain get 40% or more of their energy needs from processed food.

The obesity crisis in Britain has been fueled by poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle choices. A 2019 Health Survey for England found that 28% of adults were obese, while another 36% were overweight.

In the UK, the rate of type 2 diabetes has doubled over the past 15 years and now affects almost 5 million people.

Much of the blame for Britain’s expanding waistlines has fallen on our taste for takeaways. In recent years, however, there have been growing concerns about the consumption of processed foods.

Many processed foods can be healthy, and should form part of your balanced diet. Examples include baked beans, breakfast cereals and cheese.

For example, mass-produced slices of bread are considered ultra-processed due to the additions that give them a longer shelf-life.