Almost half, 48%, of British adults are "fed up with being told what to eat by 'do-gooders' on healthy eating campaigns," according to market research company Mintel.

"It would seem that a very sizeable portion of the British public is showing signs of health education 'overload', however well-intentioned the initiatives are," Mintel said.

Mintel's consumer research reveals that many adults express an element of confusion over what actually constitutes healthy food.  Around seven in 10 (69%) adults say "it is hard to know which foods are healthy as advice from experts keeps changing," while almost three in five (58%) say that "it is difficult to work out if foods are healthy from the labels or information on the pack."

"There is clearly a large number of adults who are suffering from chronic information overload when it comes to healthy eating issues," said James McCoy, senior market analyst at Mintel. "Today, there is a wealth of information, which bombards the public in matters of health and diet and given the complexity of many of these issues, it is hardly surprising that so many consumers feel confused."

"Clearly, health education campaigners need to find new ways to encourage change
for the better in diet among this section of the population," he said. "That said, British eating habits remain sharply polarised, and at the other end of the spectrum Mintel anticipates the emergence of a so-called 'Super Consumer.' These forward thinking Britons will take everything on board in terms of diet and health issues and will be more discerning about the food they put on their plate, be it for themselves, their partners or their family as a whole."

Despite widespread irritation with healthy eating campaigns, the esearch also shows that around half of adults consider themselves to be overweight to some degree.  In fact, some one in five (22%) feel that they are 'quite a bit overweight', with women (25%) more likely than men (18%) to feel this way.

"t is interesting to speculate whether there is any correlation between a relatively buoyant mood in the economy and spiralling levels of overweight and obese adults in Britain. It should be borne in mind however, that eating habits tend to evolve over time, and that economic prosperity is likely to be only one aspect of a more complex set of factors behind the current so-called obesity epidemic," said James McCoy.