Amidst the concerns about bad diet, junk food and obesity in the UK, figures released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) from its Expenditure and Food Survey offer some comfort.

According to the survey, covering the 12-month period from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006, consumption of healthier foods is on the rise, suggesting that public health initiatives to encourage consumers to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables are working.

Quantities of fruit and vegetables (excluding potatoes) purchased for the household were 7.7% up in the review period, continuing an increasing trend, with fruit consumption rising by more than 10%. At the same time, confectionery purchases fell by 6.1%, according to the survey.

Another healthy trend showed that households are continuing to switch from whole to semi-skimmed milk, with whole milk purchases down by 3.8%, and those for semi-skimmed up by 3.3%. Fish purchases rose by 5.7%.

The data also suggested that Vitamin C and fibre intake had risen in the review period, while fat intake had fallen, with a more marked fall observed in saturated fat intake.

Family Food, a report produced by Defra on the food and drink component of the Expenditure and Food Survey in 2005-06, will be published on 24 May 2007, and will include regional and demographic analyses.