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New figures from a report conducted by Cancer Research UK has revealed that at least 79 million ready meals and 22 million fast-food and takeaway meals are eaten weekly by adults in the UK.
The news comes as studies have shown obesity to be the single biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking, and is linked to thirteen types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreatic.
The report, based on a YouGov survey, highlighted that young adults aged 18-24 are more likely to rely on convenience meals, and are seven times more likely to indulge in fast food and takeaways at least once a week compared to the over 65s.
The charity has called on the food industry to cut the amount of calories, sugar and fat in convenience foods to reduce the unhealthy effects of the UK’s takeaway and ready meal culture.
The report also showed that men were more likely than women to eat convenience food and estimated that adults in England consume an extra 200-300 calories every day.
Regularly consuming fast food and ready meals, which tend to have a high calorie content and higher levels of fat and sugar, increases the risk of weight gain and obesity.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer prevention, said: “These figures show that ‘grab and go’ foods and a growing appetite for takeaways and ready meals are helping to propel us towards an epidemic of larger waistlines and increased cancer risk.
“The whole food industry needs to step up and commit to working with government to cut the amount of fat and sugar in our food. This would make it that bit easier for all of us to become healthier and reduce our cancer risk.”