A survey of 1,000 British parents has revealed that according to some of them at least fruit is bad for you, vitamin supplements and mashed potato count as one of your 5-a-day and the nutritional guidelines have changed so much they don’t know what to feed their kids anymore.
The report by natural fruit bar, Fruit Heroes, has revealed that a staggering 84% of parents are concerned about their child’s diet.
Three quarters of parents say they are trying to be a good parent and encourage their kids to eat healthily but they don’t know what they can give them to ensure they are as healthy as they can be.
“Concern and confusion seem to be the words of the day and epitomize the issues parents face every day, with mixed messages, some inflammatory statements and occasionally dated information from the government,” said Fruit Heroes nutritional expert, Dr Sarah Schenker.
Just over half of parents think the nutritional guidelines for kids are clear, however when asked to describe the guides the parents struggled. Daily calorie intake varies from 600 to 2,500 depending on which parent you ask, the majority of parents cite 5-a-day as the sole or main guideline for kids however some parents reference six and even seven a day instead of five. Many parents just say the official guidelines are simply ‘healthy eating’ however some parents say the official guidelines stipulate fish and white meat only.
When asked to explain the official guidelines comments from parents included:
“At least five a day from fruit and veg. A third of a plate should be carbohydrate foods. Low saturated fats. Protein. Full fat milk up until aged 4 and vitamin supplement in addition to a healthy diet up until aged 5”
“Three quarters of an adult’s diet”
“5 a day is all I know”
“Everything should be fresh and contain no salt or sugar”
“I don’t know what the guidelines are. 5 a day is a pointless invention. Every country has its own number and none give portion sizes so what’s the point?”
“It’s always changing I never know what’s right or wrong any more”
“They want to control what you feed your children by employing lunch box police and scare mongering via media”
Registered Dietician and Nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker comments: “Nutrition guidelines for children can be difficult to understand and interpret when parents are faced with so much confusing and conflicting information surrounding food. And when faced with so, many choices, some of which might seem healthy, but in truth are less so, it’s not surprising that so many parents have advised that they aren’t sure what they should be giving their children to eat.”
It seems parents find the lack of guidelines and mixed reports and advise confusing, so much so that more than 50% of parents don’t know how much sugar is too much to feed their child and almost 50% of parents don’t know how much is too much carbs, fat and salt to give their child. A third (37%)of parents don’t know which are good sugars and which are bad.
A third of parents have discovered that certain foods they thought were healthy aren’t and over a fifth of parents are confused by the front of pack labeling like the traffic lights and percent GDAs.
Most alarmingly, more than one in 10 parents don’t think eating fruit is healthy – a stat that increases dramatically in Cardiff and Liverpool, where a quarter of the population think fruit is unhealthy.
Despite 5-a-day being cited by parents as the main guidelines for their kids, 33% of parents polled could not correctly identify what 5-a-day actually means, with only two thirds of parents correctly identifying “5 pieces of fruit or veg” as the 5-a-day mantra.
Not surprisingly the survey also showed a lack of clarity about what does and doesn’t count as one of your 5-a-day. 23% think a jacket potato and 14% think mashed potato count as one of your 5-a-day – unfortunately although it is a vegetable, potatoes do not count. More than 1 in 10 (11%) think vitamin supplements count as 5-a-day substitutes whilst many failed to identify foods that are part of the 5-a-day allowance such as beans.
One in 20 parents believe that a packet of crisps count towards one of your ‘5-a-day’ so it’s not surprising that so many children have them included in their lunchboxes. The top foods normally found in a child’s lunchbox are sandwich (69%), fresh fruit (59%), yoghurt (46%) and crisps (41%). A quarter of 5-6 year olds also have chocolate, sweets or cakes in their lunch boxes.
Michael Hjertebjerg from Fruit Heroes said: “Despite the confusion, British parents are aware of the importance of healthy eating. They look for the right things – added sugar, preservatives and artificial ingredients, high salt and natural ingredients, however I’m concerned how crisps, cereal bars, chocolate, biscuits and cheese make an appearance in most lunchboxes. We want parents to be able to substitute these lunchbox fillers with real alternatives such as Fruit Heroes – a healthier choice for parents and kids.
“We know that it’s not always easy for parents to get their children to eat fruit, which is why we have come up with a healthy convenient alternative for when fruit isn’t an option. Fruit gets bruised in handbags and school bags, kids often prefer the look and appeal of confectionary – it’s not always easy. Fruit Heroes is a real option for parents in these situations. For us fruit is a hero of the kids diet – tasty, healthy, enjoyable – and we want to help kids and parents find a way to enjoy and consume fruit as part of a healthy diet.
“At Fruit Heroes we provide parents with a healthy natural fruit solution that can be put in a lunchbox or given as an in-between meal snack. We never use artificial ingredients and the bars aren’t heated or cooked, which means none of the goodness is lost. As it’s not always easy to get kids to eat fruit we have ensured that one of our fruit bars gives your child all the goodness of a piece of fruit in a way that may be more appealing for some families.”
Dr Sarah Schenker added “By carrying out this research Fruit Heroes have highlighted that parents are confused about sugar, with some thinking that fruit is no longer a healthy option for their child. Some children can be fussy when it comes to fresh fruit, so providing an alternative way of eating fruit, such as in a bar, can be a helpful solution and stop parents from giving their children other snacks, such as crisps etc.”
Michael Hjertebjerg, concluded: “One of the reasons for conducting this research was to identify parents concerns when it comes to nutrition and diet and do our best to clarify messages for them. The concerns are many and the answers currently available simply aren’t clear enough, so we will be hosting web chats with Dr Sarah Schenker throughout the year so parents can share their concerns and questions.
For more information about fruit Heroes visit:
- Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FruitHeroesUK
- Twitter https://twitter.com/fruitheroesUK
NOTES TO EDITORS |
- 1,001 UK parents with children between the age of 3-15 took part in this survey
- Executive summary of the full research is available
- Stats are available by gender, region and city
- Case studies are available on request
- Top 10 Foods in a Child’s Lunchbox:
- Sandwich (69%)
- Fresh fruit (59%)
- Yoghurt (46%)
- Crisps (41%)
- Salad (20%)
- Biscuits (18%)
- Dried Fruit (14%)
- Cheese (11%)
- Cereal Bar (11%)
- Chocolate (10%)
- Top 10 snack items
- Fruit (74%)
- Yoghurt (47%)
- Crisps (38%)
- Cereal Bars (32%)
- Fruit Juice (24%)
- Dried Fruit (24%)
- Chocolate (21%)
- Fruit Bars (18%)
- Vegetables (17%)
- Sweets (17%)
- Top 10 things parents actively look for when buying food for their kids:
- No added sugar (51%)
- No artificial ingredients (36%)
- 1 of your 5-a-day (35%)
- Salt levels (34%)
- No colourings (33%)
- Sugar free (32%)
- No preservatives 31%)
- Reduced sugar (29%)
- Natural ingredients (27%)
- Grams of fat (16%)
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