Diet and nutrition

The Eatwell Guide published by Public Health England outlines what constitutes a healthy and balanced diet. It includes fruit and vegetables (39%), starchy carbohydrates (37%), proteins (12%), dairy and alternatives (8%), oils and spreads (1%), and occasional foods (3%). Therefore, three quarters of a diet should encompass fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates.

People living in the UK are advised to follow the 5-a-day campaign: being mindful of including five portions of fruit and vegetables in their diet each day. It is also advised that diets are low in sugar, salt and saturated fat. Following a healthy and balanced diet can avoid heart disease, stroke and bowel cancer cases.

In England, three in 10 working aged adults and four in 10 older adults (65+ years) meet the 5-a-day dietary recommendation. The diet data indicates that persons in Derby are in line with the England average. This demonstrates a large proportion of the local population who should make improvements to their diet to include five portions of fruit and vegetables each day and avoid foods containing excess sugar, salt and saturated fat.

Infants who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life are given the best nutrition. Exclusive breastfeeding avoids maternal and child health associated costs.

Physical activity

Physical inactivity is associated with one in six deaths in the UK which is comparable to the harm from smoking (Public Health England, 2014). One in four UK adults do not even meet the minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a week. Here in Derby, 3 in 10 adults are physically inactive.

The Department of Health recommends that all adults should be physically active for 150 minutes a week, and children and young people should be physically active for an hour each day. Alongside these physical activity guidelines, it is recommended that times of extended sedentary periods are also avoided.

Nine in 10 UK children aged between 2 and 4 years do not achieve the physical activity guidelines (HM Government, 2014). It’s important to develop healthy lifestyle behaviours from a young age because poor lifestyles developed in childhood are challenging to reverse in adulthood.

Essentially, more adults in Derby need to become physically active and strive towards regular physical activity at moderate level. More pressingly, children require the opportunity and encouragement to be physically active each and every day. Physical activity across generations is recommended in order to avoid the associated diseases such as diabetes and specific cancers, and conditions such as hypertension and depression.


The rate of obesity in England has significantly increased since the 1990s. Now one in three children are overweight or obese, with rates of obesity increasing as children age. 9.1% of children in Derby begin primary school obese and this rises to 19.1% of children in Derby being obese when they leave. In Derby, 64.8% of adults are overweight/obese (Public Health England, 2016). The levels of obesity are concerning because being overweight and obese is associated with health problems such as diabetes type 2, heart disease, stroke, hypertension and some cancers.

Ultimately, to reverse this obesity trend, individuals, families and communities need to move more, eat less and consume a healthy, nutritious diet.


Diabetes is a common life-long health condition and can increase the risk of other health conditions such as heart attack, stroke and amputation, and can even result in premature death.

There are 3 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and an estimated 850,000 people who have the condition, but don’t know it (Diabetes UK, 2012).

There are two main types: Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin.  This type is the most common found in childhood, and will usually appear before the age of 40.  It can be treated with daily insulin injections, a healthy diet and regular physical exercise.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly.  This type usually appears in people over the age of 40, though in South Asian people, who are at greater risk, it often appears from the age of 25.  

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented.  Type 2 however, whilst more complex, can often be prevented by leading a healthier lifestyle and being of a healthy weight.  To find out how at risk you are of developing Type 2 diabetes, take the Diabetes UK Risk Score Test.  In the Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area that covers Derby City, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes among people aged 17 years and older is 6.5% (27,162 people in 2011/12) compared to 5.7% in similar CCGs.  It is estimated that there are a further 4,084 adults with undiagnosed diabetes in the area.  

More detail can be found in the Adult Diabetes Community Health Profile that can be downloaded below.


On this page: