CHOCOLATE has topped the charts as the Wales’ favourite junk food with crisps coming in second place, according to a new YouGov poll commissioned by World Cancer Research Fund. The survey comes as the cancer prevention charity launches ‘Dump the Junk’. A campaign which encourages people to give up their favourite junk food, or altogether, for the month of June.
World Cancer Research Fund asked the public what their favourite junk food is, how often they eat junk food on a weekly basis and how much money they spend per person on junk food in a week.
Respondents from all nine UK regions participated in the poll. While chocolate was a clear favourite for women (28%), for men, chocolate and crisps tied for first place (16% for both). Cake and pizza came in third and fourth place for women and biscuits and pizza where follow up contenders for men. Chips (5%) and burgers (5%) lagged far behind as favourites.
3 in 5 (61%) of Welsh population people eat junk food three times or more a week and only 4% said that they don’t eat junk food in a typical week.
Nearly 70% of Welsh said that they spend up to £21 a week on junk food. Over 55s in the UK spend the least amount on junk food with just over 2 in 5 (43%) saying they spend less than £5 a week on it and a further 13% spend nothing.
World Cancer Research Fund is promoting its campaign so that people can start to feel the benefits from eating a healthier diet, as well as raise funds for cancer prevention. Those taking part in Dump the Junk can ask friends and family to sponsor them or donate the money they save from cutting out junk food.
Eating junk food, such as chocolate, crisps and chips from a takeaway, on a regular basis can contribute to weight gain. One of the biggest risk factors for cancer is living with overweight and obesity and there’s strong evidence that it increases the risk of developing several types of cancer, including bowel, breast and liver cancer.
For cancer prevention, one of World Cancer Research Fund’s recommendations is to have a balanced diet, rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains such as brown rice and wholemeal bread, and pulses like beans and lentils.
Sarah Ann Macklin, Registered Nutritionist and Live Well Be Well Founder, comments: “It’s essential to make healthy choices to support our physical and mental wellbeing – junk food is low in nutrients as well as high in calories, fat, and sugar. These unhealthy ingredients can contribute to weight gain, obesity, and other health problems, including cancer. By giving up junk food, we can improve our overall health and longevity, which is why I’m supporting Dump the Junk.”
James Radford, from Northamptonshire, has pledged to take part in Dump the Junk this June, says: “I’m always on the road with my job so it’s easy for me to stop off for some fried chicken. However, having a healthy diet is so important to me because I feel so much better physically and mentally. I just want to get up, get out and seize the day more. That’s why I’m going to take on the challenge and give up all takeaway foods this June!”
Tricia George, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, has given up junk food says: “It’s definitely not easy to give up, but some of my top tips are: don’t buy junk food in the first place because relying on self-will doesn’t always work. If it’s not readily available, you’ll find a healthier option to snack on, and if you can, try making your own snacks where possible – this allows me to control the amount of sugar and butter added. You too can learn to say, ‘no thank you’ when you’re offered junk food.”
Hannah Burgess, Community and Events Fundraising Manager at World Cancer Research Fund, says: “Most of us indulge in food that’s not good for us from time to time, and our poll shows that despite cost-of-living concerns, lots of us still reach for a takeaway or bar of chocolate – which I have to admit is my favourite junk food. We know that giving up junk food won’t be easy, however, whatever positive changes people are able to do is a great starting point for making healthier changes to their diet. You’ll also be raising vital funds for cancer prevention research.”