KEBABS, mash, cocktails and cheesecake are tickling the taste buds of people in our region, while the North-East is collectively turning its back on bananas, jacket potatoes, Indian and Chinese food.

If new Government figures are to be believed, families here have had enough of garlic bread and can’t stomach jacket potatoes anymore.

But they are loving stuffed pasta, meaty stews and pizza according to results from the 2017/18 Family Food Survey, published earlier this month.

When it comes to popular varieties of takeaway food, the statistics suggest that North-East people are now more likely to dive into a doner than they are to crave a curry, with pitta munching residents prompting a five-fold rise in kebab consumption between 2014 and 2018.

Our consumption of Indian curries dropped by 59 per cent in the same period, while Chinese and Thai curries were apparently enjoyed a third less than they were in 2014.

Families in our region do appear to be working on their healthy eating, however – unless the declining popularity of fresh fruit is anything to go by.

While there was a growth of 48 per cent in vegetables eaten and a notable rise in salad enjoyment, Echo analysis found that fresh fruit saw a drop of around a third in the same period, with bananas faring particularly badly.

The figures suggest white bread is being rejected in favour of brown or wholemeal, while garlic bread has inexplicably fallen from grace with an 85 per cent drop reflected.

A love of the humble potato is clear in the annual statistics, though jacket spuds have suffered a steep decline in popularity and were consumed a quarter less in 2017/18 than they were four years previously.

North-East residents most loved form of potato remained the ever-favoured chip. Creamy mashed potato could soon prove to be a contender though, with its popularity growing by a striking 198 per cent since 2014.

Rob Clayton, strategy director for potatoes at the public body AHDB Potatoes – formerly the Potato Council – said it was no surprise to see spuds remaining a staple part of the North-East diet, adding: “They are affordable, nutritious and sustainably and locally grown.

“We know from our consumer research that the amount of time that families spend cooking has reduced over the years – fortunately potatoes are very versatile and can be cooked in different ways.

“Potatoes supply 13% of the vitamin C and 14% of the fibre we consume in the UK so it is great that people are still accessing that via mash.

“Those who love their jackets can save time by popping it in the microwave for 5-6 minutes before finishing in the oven for around 25-30 minutes (depending on the size of the spud).”

Georgios Latousakis, manager at Darlington’s Santorini Greek Café and Restaurant, said he had noticed the rise in customers enjoying kebabs and wraps, particularly those made from chicken.

Mr Latousakis said: “They are cheap and cooked fresh with good ingredients, they are tasty.

“People like chicken and it sells well because it can go to almost any market, but then the classic doner kebab – which I don’t sell – is popular.

“After 11.30pm, there is not a lot of choice, it’s either pizza or kebab and girls in nice dresses probably don’t want to hold onto a big pizza box, they probably prefer a smaller box so go for a kebab.”

He added: “But if people invested a tenth of the time they spend on their phones learning to cook a good meal, we would not have as many problems with diabetes or overweight people.”

The annual Family Food survey takes into account detailed statistical information about purchased quantities, expenditure and nutrient intakes derived from household and eating out food and drink.

The data is collected from households in the UK using self-reported diaries supported by till receipts of all purchases, including food eaten out, over a two week period.