Scots play ketchup on health

ONE in ten Scots believe a dollop of tomato ketchup counts towards the government's five-a-day fruit and vegetable target for a healthier nation.

New research into the country's eating and drinking habits has also found that ten per cent of Scots think wine makes a contribution.

More than half – 56 per cent – count chips, roast potatoes and mash when adding up their daily intake.

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The survey of about 5,000 consumers, carried out by the Health Food Manufacturers' Association, has raised serious concerns about the effect the recession is having on people's diets, with more opting for junk food and ready meals.

But it also reveals the public's continuing levels of confusion – and unwillingness to heed the advice – about the government's nutritional health target.

Two-thirds of Scots – around 3.6 million people – were opting to fill up on TV dinners and takeaways and not eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Many said they were choosing tomato ketchup to help them hit their five-a-day target. Although tomato ketchup has natural health benefits, it is offset by its artificial salt and sugar content.

Carbohydrate-rich potatoes also do not count towards the target as it lacks natural fibre.

Fife-based nutritionist and author Carina Norris, said the fact that people believed tomato ketchup, wine and potatoes counted towards the five-a-day fruit and vegetables was "very concerning. It's good that people know the message that it is five-a-day, but we really need to get the message out about what it is and what a portion is," she added.