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Takeaways and ready meals hit 100 million a week

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by Cancer Research UK | News

3 March 2017

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The food industry can help us by....

New figures reveal that at least 79 million ready meals and 22 million fast-food and takeaway meals are eaten weekly by adults in the UK, according to estimates in a new report by Cancer Research UK. 

“The whole food industry needs to step up and commit to working with government to cut the amount of fat and sugar in our food.” – Alison Cox

These findings highlight the need for the food industry to cut the amount of calories, sugar and fat in convenience foods to reduce the unhealthy effects of the UK’s takeaway and ready meal culture.

The report, based on a YouGov survey found that young adults aged 18-24 are more likely to rely on convenience meals, and are seven times more likely to indulge in fast food and takeaways at least once a week compared to the over 65s.

The report also found that men were more likely than women to eat convenience food rather than make meals at home. 

It’s estimated that adults in England consume an extra 200-300 calories every day, which is around the same calorie content as two packets of salted crisps.

Regularly consuming fast food and ready meals, which tend to have a high calorie content and higher levels of fat and sugar, increases the risk of weight gain and obesity.

Obesity is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking, and is linked to thirteen types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreatic.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer prevention, said: “These figures show that ‘grab and go’ foods and a growing appetite for takeaways and ready meals are helping to propel us towards an epidemic of larger waistlines and increased cancer risk.

“The whole food industry needs to step up and commit to working with government to cut the amount of fat and sugar in our food.  This would make it that bit easier for all of us to become healthier and reduce our cancer risk.”  


Birch J, Hooper L, Rosenberg G & Vohra J (2017) A Weighty Issue. Cancer Research UK.

Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) (2011) Dietary Reference Values for Energy.

Full report: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sites/default/files/a_weighty_issue_full_report.pdf

Exec sum: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sites/default/files/a_weighty_issue_exec_summary.pdf