A poll by Liverpool’s John Moores University has found Emmerdale’s Eric Pollard to be soap’s unhealthiest character.

The poll conducted for the Co-operative store suggested that in 62% of scenes, Eric, portrayed by Christopher Chittell, either has an alcoholic beverage to hand or is talking about his next one.

“If Eric wants to reduce his risk of that second heart attack, he needs to spend less time in the Woolpack and more enjoying brisk walks in the Dales – and eating plenty of fruit and veg.” – Senior British Heart Foundation cardic nurse Doireann Maddock.

Emmerdale in general was found to be the unhealthiest soap, while EastEnders came runner-up with 87% of all food shown on the programme deemed to be bad for the heart.

Arthur ‘Fatboy’ Chubb (Ricky Norwood) came under fire for his unusual eating habits including meals of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, while elderly resident Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) was deemed to be unhealthy for adding salt to his soup.

EastEnders was also said to feature the most scenes of characters smoking with 5% of airtime decided to Dot Branning (June Brown) and her stepson Max (Jake Wood) indulging in a cigarette.

Five Hollyoaks characters made the top 10 for eating junk food, with 64% of scenes focused on unhealthy eating habits. The soap’s Jacqui McQueen (Claire Cooper) was said to either refer to or drink alcohol in 30% of scenes, and eats badly in 17%.

Coronation Street was found to be the healthiest soap at meal times, with 41% of all food consumed, or referred to, getting the seal of approval from health experts.

After casting an eye over 830 scenes from our primetime soaps, the study found that 57% of drinks being consumed were alcoholic and only 6% were soft drinks.

Maddock said: “Producers are cooking up a hotpot of trouble for our best-loved soap characters by putting them at risk of on-screen heart attack or stroke.”

Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman added: “There is research indicating child obesity and alcohol consumption are influenced by what children see on TV.”

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