The research — led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in collaboration with the University of Oxford and funded by the Wellcome Trust — found that people who adhered to any five or more of the recommendations set out in the guidelines had an estimated 7% reduction in their mortality risk.
The recommendation associated with the largest reduction, when adhered to alone, was the consumption of fruit and vegetables which reduced estimated risk by 10%.
The study also claimed that following Eatwell Guide recommendations could reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Diets that adhered to between five and nine of the evaluated recommendations were associated with 1.6kg less CO2 emissions per day, a 30% reduction compared to average daily CO2 emissions of diets that adhered to up to two of the nine evaluated recommendations.
However, data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey revealed that less than 0.1% of people follow all nine guidelines. Most people (44%) followed three or four of the recommendations, with the consumption of dietary fibre and oily fish being the least commonly met category.
The government’s Eatwell Guide, published in 2016, provides advice on balanced and healthy diets. The recommendations include advice to consume five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, wholegrain, higher fibre carbohydrates and lower fat and sugar dairy options. It also recommends consumption of no more than 70g of red and processed meat a day, and replacing meat with lower fat, higher fibre proteins such as beans, pulses, fish and eggs.