Bupa reveals Britain's sweet tooth

03 June 2015

  • Research explores Britain’s penchant for puddings with desserts most likely to make us happy
  • 33% of Brits say ice cream reminds them of childhood memories, 31% picked apple crumble as the most comforting food, 30% said strawberries and cream makes them happy
  • Choice of food is more diverse than ever, but across generations we still turn to the traditional roast dinner to make us feel comforted and at home
family lunch

Desserts have been unveiled as the nation’s most evocative food according to research from Bupa.

The research explores the powerful link between food and mood and found that the humble apple crumble trumped many household favourites to make us feel comforted – beating shepherd’s pie (26%), bangers and mash (24%) and fish and chips (21%).

Desserts were also most likely to make us nostalgic, with strawberries and cream making 30% of us happy and ice cream named as the food most likely to remind us of childhood memories (33%).

When looking after an older person the challenge is often getting them to eat enough – it’s one time when more calories can be better. That’s why Bupa believes it’s important to understand the wider issues that affect its care home residents’ enjoyment and appetite for food, beyond nutrition and sustenance.

And residents from Bupa’s care homes echoed the nation’s penchant for puddings. While taking part in a series of in-depth research sessions, they cited cakes and desserts as the foods most likely to evoke happy memories, often connected to thoughts of home baking and childhood indulgences.

Dr Pablo Vandenabeele, psychiatrist and Bupa’s head of mental health said:

“Food is much more than just taste and sustenance, it connects us to family traditions, cherished moments and loved ones. There is also a well-known link between food and mood – for example a reduced appetite can be an early warning sign of problems such as depression.

Desserts are often the foods we choose to celebrate, to treat or spoil ourselves, so we are more likely to connect them with happy moments from our lives, and are memories we recall with such fondness."

The exception to the ‘dessert’ rule was the archetypal family meal, the roast dinner, which featured highly across the board. Despite the diversity of cuisines available in the UK, and curry’s reputation as Britain’s best-loved dish , 42% of us turn to roast dinner to make us feel at home.

With three quarters of Brits (76%) saying food can boost their mood and, many of us (80%) saying families today are missing out on creating happy memories by not eating meals together, Bupa is highlighting the role that food can play in improving wellbeing, above and beyond nutrition. Recognising its power to make people really feel at home, especially for older people, Bupa is committed to understanding the relationship between its care home residents and food.

Tim Brooke, head of hotel services for Bupa care homes, said:

“Everyone has a favourite food and everyone has a meal that reminds them of home – our relationship with food is important. At Bupa, we know that while nutrition is important, food is more than just fuel, it’s part of who we are.

We want our residents to feel at home and happy in their surroundings and providing the food people love and enjoy is an important part of what we do. For example, it’s why we’ve created special rooms in many of our homes that families can use to hold celebratory meals for loved ones who are living with us.”

To find out more about Bupa’s care homes please visit: /care-services

Notes to editor

Consumer research was conducted between 15rd to 16th April by Populus on behalf of Bupa with a sample of 2,100 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults. Qualitative research was conducted during nine focus groups with 66 participants, aged between 57 and 95 years old. Sessions took place between 13 April and 23 April 2015 at Bupa care homes.

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

At Bupa, we have no shareholders. Our priority is looking after you... through our care homes, health insurance, health centres and dental centres. Bupa. Our focus is your health.

We have 15.7 million health insurance customers, provide healthcare to around 14.5 million people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 23,000 aged care residents.

We directly employ around 80,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland, and many more through our associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

Health insurance is around 73% of our business. In a number of countries, we also run clinics, dental centres, hospitals, and care homes and villages.

For more information, visit www.bupa.com

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