The proportion of adults eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables in St Helens has fallen, new figures show.

The Food Foundation said many families across the UK are having to cut back on fruit and vegetables during the cost-of-living crisis.

Office for Health Improvement and Disparities figures based on Sport England data show 25.8% of people aged over 16 in St Helens met the 'five-a-day' fruit and vegetable recommendation in the year to November 2023.

This was down from 28.6% the year before.

Evidence shows there are significant health benefits to getting at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. According to the NHS, a portion of fruit or vegetables is 80 grams.

Across England, the rate of adults meeting the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables fell to 31% last year – down from 32.5% the year before and 34.9% two years prior.

Shona Goudie, Food Foundation policy and advocacy manager, said: "Fruit and vegetables shouldn't be a luxury for low-income households but that is the struggle that many families across the UK are currently facing."

She added recent data from the charity shows the "severe" impact the cost-of-living crisis continues to have as it suggests 60% of food insecure households are cutting down on purchasing fruit and 44% on vegetables.

She added: "It is critical that Government and retailers prioritise making sure that everyone can afford and access a healthy diet."

The Sport England figures also show 34.4% of adults in St Helens were estimated to be obese last year – up from 32.1% in 2021-22.

Overall, 71.3% of over 18-year-olds in the area were overweight.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said research by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows the UK has the joint highest percentage of people who consume five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day in the developed world.

They added: "We encourage everyone to maintain a healthy balanced diet which includes at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day, alongside plenty of higher fibre, wholegrain foods."

They said the Government is taking "strong action" to encourage healthier food choices and to tackle obesity while respecting the importance of individual choice.