A new study has just revealed that a shockingly high percentage of primary school children in the UK are not eating enough fruit and vegetables and that a large proportion of them believe that cheese comes from plants and that fish fingers are made from chicken.
These findings come from a survey, the largest study of its kind, carried out by investigators from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), which included more than 27,500 children in the U.K.
The researchers conducted a series of tests which revealed that:
Only 64 percent of 5 to 8 year olds and 45 per cent of 8 to 11 year olds were able to recognize a well balanced and healthy diet.
A balanced diet – or a good diet – means consuming from all the different good groups in the right quantities.
Even though 77 percent of primary school children and 88 percent of secondary school children know that they should eat more than five portions of fruit or vegetables each day, an overwhelming 67 percent and 81 percent (respectively) report eating less than four portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
It is essential that kids eat their fruit and veg, a previous study published in Epidemiology revealed that children who consistently eat more servings of dairy foods, fruits and vegetables have lower blood pressure levels and are at a lower risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
An alarming 29 per cent of primary school children believe that cheese comes from plants, ten percent of secondary school children think that tomatoes grow under the ground and one in five primary school children say that fish fingers come from chicken.
8 per cent of primary school children, 24 per cent of 11-14 year olds, and 32 percent of 14-15 year olds said they hadn’t eaten breakfast the day of the survey and a quarter of 14-16 year olds reporting that they never eat breakfast.
Research has indicated that people who regularly eat breakfast have a lower BMI compared to those who eat breakfast fewer than two days per week.
Despite scientific evidence suggesting that oily fish is good for the health, 16 per cent of primary school kids and twenty percent of secondary school kids said they never eat fish.
Over 3,000 schools are participating in the BNF’s “Healthy Eating Week”, which is dedicated to educating more than 1.2 million children across the country about topics such as where food comes from, how it’s made, and general healthy eating.
Education Programme Manager at the British Nutrition Foundation, Roy Ballam, said “Schools throughout the UK require a national framework and guidance for food and nutrition education to support the learning needs of children and young people, especially at a time when levels of childhood obesity are soaring.”
The researchers hope that through the “Healthy Eating Week” children across the country will become more educated about nutrition, where foods come from, and how they are processed.
Ballam added that that “many schools in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have registered to participate in the Week demonstrates their understanding of how important healthy eating is and their commitment to giving children a solid grounding from which to create healthy lives for themselves.”
In addition, Ballam added that “through this survey one in five (21 per cent) primary school children and 18 per cent of secondary school pupils told us that they have never visited a farm. This may go part way to explaining why over a third (34 per cent) of 5-8 year olds and 17 per cent of 8-11 year olds believe that pasta comes from animals.”