People who follow a Government guide that encourages a balanced diet are less likely to die prematurely, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that Public Health England’s Eatwell Guide reduces a person’s chance of dying prematurely by 7 per cent.

The Eatwell Guide shows how much of what people eat should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet over the course of a day, or even a week.

It includes the famous recommendation to eat five portions of fruit or vegetables a day.

Experts led by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), examined data on 58,000 British people taking part in three major UK studies.

The research, published inĀ BMJ Open, found that very few totally adhere to all nine recommendations within the guide.

Some 44 per cent followed three or four of the recommendations. Three in 10 adhered to at least five of the nine recommendations. Compared with those deemed to have “low adherence” to the Eatwell Guide, people with “intermediate to high” adherence had a reduced risk of death.

Sticking to the guidance on fruit and vegetable consumption – eating at least five portions of fruit or vegetables a day – confers a 10% reduced risk of premature death, researchers found.

The researchers also found that following Eatwell Guide recommendations could reduce the emission of greenhouse gases – one of the biggest drivers of climate change.

Lead author Dr Pauline Scheelbeek, assistant professor in nutritional and environmental epidemiology at the LSHTM, said: “Our study demonstrates that the Eatwell Guide forms an effective first step towards more healthy and sustainable diets in the UK.

“Further adherence to the guidelines would not only result in population health benefits, but is also associated with lower environmental footprint due to reduced greenhouse gas emission.”

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