November 23, 2011

The real five-a-day? UK kids feast on chocolate, energy drinks and crisps

Artie's Olympics - PlaygroundOur new survey results reveal UK kids are turning their backs on fruit and veg in favour of snacks loaded with fat, salt and sugar.

Nearly one in three UK kids (29%) is indulging by eating sweets, chocolate and crisps three or more times a day. And almost half of kids surveyed (40%) also admit they normally drink fizzy or energy drinks during the day.

In contrast, almost nine in 10 kids surveyed (88%) were not eating the recommended five portions of fruit and veg each day. In fact, children were more likely to have crisps at lunch (34%) than fruit (31%).

With a third (32%) of children in England aged 11-15 now overweight or obese, we've revealed the worrying survey results as it launches its Food4Thought campaign, aimed at helping to tackle childhood obesity.

The new five-a-day
How many UK kids normally drink fizzy or energy drinks every day?
The survey of 2,000 11- to 16-year-olds helps give a unique snapshot of their daily diet. Based on the results, the charity calculates a child’s typical daily diet includes one packet of crisps, one chocolate bar, one bag of chewy jelly sweets, one fizzy drink and one energy drink.

That means kids are consuming almost 30 teaspoons of sugar (118g), more fat than a cheeseburger, and over a third of their daily calorie intake from snacks alone.

Victoria Taylor, our Senior Dietitian, said: “Five-a-day seems to have a whole new meaning for some young people. They are consuming an alarming amount of fizzy drinks, sweets, chocolate and crisps as a regular part of their daily diet.

“It’s already been suggested that this generation of children may not live longer than their parents due to the implications of their lifestyle on levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

“We’ve all got to realise that this generation’s food choices today could have long term consequences on their future health.”

Healthy vending machines

To launch the Food4Thought campaign, we're working with 30 schools across the UK to set up healthy vending machines. The pilot project aims to encourage school pupils to eat healthier snacks and meals during the school day.

The pupils will play a key role in deciding how the vending machines are run with one school winning a prize at the end of the school year. If successful, we hope other schools will use their model to set up their own healthy vending machines in the future.