UK tops list of European countries that eat the most junk food, Hello Fresh shows

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dThe UK eats the most junk food in Europe, a new study by meal box delivery company HelloFresh has found.

The company surveyed over 15,000 adults across nine European countries to establish their attitudes towards junk food. While many of the UK’s European neighbours eat junk food three times per month, Brits eat double that, indulging six times a month on average. 

In fact, the UK eats the most junk food across all age groups. 16-24 year olds in the UK treat themselves to junk food a whopping eleven times per month, dwarfing second place Belgium at seven times. 

Out of 105 European cities, Belfast is the junk food capital of Europe. Residents there give into temptation seven times per month on average. 

In total, 17 UK cities feature in the list, with six of them placing in the top 10. The only other country to feature in the top 10 is Belgium, with Mons scooping second place.

Top 10 European Cities that Eat the Most Junk Food Per Month

RankCountryCityAverage No. of Times Eating Junk Food Per Month
1UKBelfast7.45
2BelgiumMons7.32
3UKBirmingham6.69
4UKGlasgow6.63
5UKNewcastle6.55
6BelgiumBrussels6.22
7BelgiumNamur6.1
8UKEdinburgh6.02
9BelgiumLiege5.97
10UKManchester5.75

While Brits might have the greatest appetite for junk food, the research shows the UK isn’t as partial to a ready meal. On average, 19% of a typical British shopping basket is ready meals, the third lowest in Europe behind only Sweden and Austria. 

Although this figure climbs to 27% for 16-24 year olds in the UK, the percentage is the lowest for the age group across all countries. In Germany and the Netherlands, over a third (35%) of 16-24 year old’s shopping baskets are ready meals.

The UK’s reliance on junk food could be due to a lack of cooking knowledge. Almost 44% of Brits said they had ruled out some food because they don’t know how to cook it, while just over a third are confident cooking with all food and ingredients.

Looking specifically at the UK’s younger generations, more than half have limited the food they eat because of their cooking knowledge. This figure stands at 53% among 16-24 year olds, rising to 57% for 25-34 year olds.

Speaking of the results, Senior Chef Mimi Morley from HelloFresh said: “A lack of cooking knowledge is clearly leading to increased reliance on junk food and ready meals, especially within the younger generation. And it’s easy to see why; with many of us juggling busy lives, convenience is a huge factor in the meals we decide to eat.

At HelloFresh, we’re working hard to shift attitudes. For a long time, cooking meant spending hours in the kitchen. However as our meal boxes and recipes prove, you can enjoy nutritional and quick meals at home. The more we cook at home, the more we’ll believe in our abilities and the less reliant we’ll be on our junk food and ready meals safety blanket.”

You can view the junk food habits of 105 cities across the nine countries, as well as further insights from the survey, on the HelloFresh website.