Young people buying takeaway at lunch or after school at least once a week

Sixty percent of 11 to 16-year olds say they buy food such as chips or fried chicken from takeaways at lunchtime or after school at least once a week, along with almost a third (31 percent) saying they have an energy drink at least once a week.

This is according to new research from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), which also revealed that 39 percent of secondary and 48 percent of primary school students report eating three or more snacks a day.

The research, conducted as part of BNF Healthy Eating Week, surveyed almost 5,000 primary and secondary school students aged 7 – 16 years.

When asked about the three snacks they eat most, encouragingly, fruit was the most popular snack with over half of both primary and secondary school students surveyed saying it was one of the snacks they ate most. However, this was closely followed by less healthy options, with almost half of children aged 7 – 11 years saying they snack on crisps (46 percent) and chocolate (46 percent). While both primary and secondary school students report getting most of their snacks at home about one fifth of primary and a third of secondary students also say they get snacks from a shop. 

Although almost half (46 percent) of secondary school students say that being good at sport motivates them to eat healthily, over a third (35 percent) say that one of the main reasons stopping them from being active is that they are too tired after school. 

A third of those surveyed said they eat healthily to have more energy (31 percent), and 30 per cent to sleep better (30percent) and almost half wanting to feel healthy.

However, there are also barriers to eating well with 36 percent reporting that they don’t like healthy foods, 20 percent saying that healthy foods are boring and 12 percent not sure what the healthiest foods are. Most respondents (67 percent) in this age group say they would talk to their parents if they were worried about their health or weight. If they didn’t want to talk to someone face-to-face, 41 percent would go to the NHS website or to other health websites (31 percent), while 16 percent would look to social media.

Roy Ballam, BNF’s Managing Director and Head of Education, said: “While it’s encouraging that children are motivated to eat well, many of the children we surveyed also said they didn’t like the taste of healthy foods or thought they were boring. 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."

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