Milk chocolate, cheddar and margherita pizza: Britain’s most-craved meals, according to scientists


Britain ISN’T mad about fish and chips: Chocolate, cheddar and margherita pizza are nation’s most-craved meals and treats, according to scientists… and a full English isn’t even in the top 10!

  • Scientists who quizzed Brits found chocolate and cheese are most-wanted snack
  • Items from chains also ranked high, such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC 
  • The most sought after healthy option was an orange — ranked 13th out 500

Fish and chips isn’t Britain’s favourite food, scientists claimed today. 

And even a full English doesn’t make the top 20. 

Instead, chocolate, cheddar and margherita pizza top the pile of the country’s best-loved treats.

Researchers quizzed more than 2,000 Britons on their food preferences to create a league table of the UK’s most sought after items.

Fish and chips — a staple of British cuisine — came fourth, just ahead of spaghetti bolognese.

Snacks from McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut also littered the top 10.

Oranges were the most-craved healthy option, ranking 13th out of a list of 500 foods that people were asked to share their opinion on. 

At the other end of the scale came samphire — a salty-tasting vegetable, similar to asparagus, that is usually served with seafood.

Scientists, who quizzed more than 2,000 Britons on their food preference, found milk chocolate, cheddar and Margherita pizza are the most-wanted snacks, along with fish and chips, spaghetti Bolognese and ridge-cut crisps. Items from chains also ranked highest on the craving scale, with McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder, Pizza Hut’s Pepperoni Feast and KFC’s Fillet Tower Burger all making the top 10

What should a balanced diet look like?

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Chicory and marrow rounded out the three least drool-worthy foods. 

Researchers at Cardiff University have created a database with people’s opinions on foods for other scientists to use in their own studies.

They asked 2,150 people in the UK to share their perception of the taste and healthiness of 520 foods, as well as how much they craved them.

The items — which were either baked goods, savoury treats, desserts, takeaways, biscuits, confectionery, fruits or vegetables — were shown in pictures in front of them.

For cravings, they were asked ‘how strongly have you craved this food over the past 7 days?’, on a scale of ‘not at all’ to ‘extremely’. 

The responses were then translated by scientists to a score out of 100.

Milk chocolate was craved the most, on average, with a score of 59.5. 

It was followed by cheddar (49.6), Margherita pizza (48.4), fish and chips (46.7) and spaghetti Bolognese (45.7).

Other items in the top 20 included ridge-cut crisps, sweet chilli crisps, chocolate cupcakes, roast beef, a full English and cookies. 

Samphire had a craving score of just 2.2, followed by chicory (2.7) and marrow (2.9).

The findings were published in the Royal Society Open Science journal.

The researchers, led by researcher Dr Mark Randle, noted that energy-dense foods are ‘typically highly desired and inform the subjective experiences of liking and food cravings’.

They said: ‘These are often processed foods high in fat, salt or sugar with the exception of fruit which has been reported as being commonly craved.’

Volunteers ranked healthy foods ‘significantly lower’ on how good they tasted compared to junk food, the team noted.

And participants who were hungry when sharing their views on the foods were more likely to rank junk food higher and healthy food lower, they said.

WHAT WERE THE MOST AND LEAST-CRAVED FOOD? 

Most-craved foods

Milk chocolate 

Cheddar 

Margherita pizza

Fish & chips 

Spaghetti bolognese 

Ridge cut crisps 

McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder 

Pizza Hut Pepperoni Feast 

Chocolate cupcake 

KFC Fillet Tower burger 

Sweet chilli crisps

Domino’s Mighty Meaty

Oranges

Chocolate cake

Hard cheese

Roast beef

Chocolate chip cookies

Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons

Full English breakfast

Double chocolate cookie 

Least-craved foods

Samphire 

Chicory

Marrow

Lolly pops

Redcurrants 

Nougat

Okra 

Broad beans 

Fig roll

Persimmon 



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