Junk food at least once a week

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

A majority of secondary school students buy food such as chips or fried chicken at least once a week, new research suggests.

The study from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) finds that 60 per cent of young people aged 11 to 16 admit to buying this kind fast food at lunchtime or after-school at least once a week. Furthermore, a third say they have an energy drink at least once a week.

The responses from the survey – which involved around 5,000 primary and secondary students aged from 7 to 16, also show that 39 per cent of secondary and 48 per cent of primary school students eat three or more snacks a day. The survey found that more than half of the respondents named fruit as the most popular snack. However, this was closely followed by crisps and chocolate (both on 46 per cent).

Secondary-age pupils are motivated by different factors to eat healthily, the survey found, with 46 per cent saying that being good at sport helps, while a third want to eat more healthily in order to have more energy and to sleep better.

However, barriers to eating healthily include not liking healthy foods (36 per cent), finding healthy food boring (20 per cent), and not knowing what the healthiest foods are (12 per cent).

Roy Ballam, BNF’s managing director and head of education, said: “This is where education about nutrition, cooking and food provenance can play a key role in helping children understand and get familiar with the foods that make up a healthy diet.

“With snacks, sugary drinks and takeaways readily available to many children on their way to and from school we need to do all that we can to educate young people about eating well. It’s also vital that we support teachers to deliver evidence-based and engaging information to children about food and nutrition. Many food teachers may actually get little training in nutrition and addressing this is key to ensuring the quality of food education in schools.”

The survey was published to mark BNF’s Healthy Eating Week this week.

  • The charity has published a range of free, evidence-based resources for schools. Visit http://bit.ly/2HrZYuD


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