One in 20 British Children are Eating Crisps for Breakfast

Becky Banham
By Becky Banham,
updated on Aug 27, 2019

One in 20 British Children are Eating Crisps for Breakfast

New research has revealed that as many as 6% of primary school-aged children are eating crisps and snacks for breakfast

A nationwide study into children’s breakfast habits has revealed the extent to which parents are losing the battle over breakfast, with more than one in 20 children now reaching for nothing but a bag of crisps before leaving the house. Perhaps even more worrying, the survey found a staggering 65% of parents admit that their child regularly skips the first meal of the day.

For the 65% of kids who regularly miss the first meal of the day, the average number of times they skip the meal emerged as 60 days a year – nearly a third of the school year. But for those children who do eat breakfast every day, the majority (54%) are consuming high sugar cereals, with a further 31% opting for toast with high sugar toppings, such as chocolate spread.

The nationwide study of 2,000 primary school parents has revealed as many as 72% claim they are driven to a state of anxiety about their child's eating habits. And it’s not just breakfast which poses a problem for British parents; the study found that nearly three-quarters of parents (74%) said it is a struggle to get their children to eat a healthy, balanced diet at all.

In a bid to get children to eat healthier, parents have revealed several tried and tested tactics. 42% have tried to talk to their children about the benefits of eating healthily, while 39% have tried secretly blending vegetables into sauces.

A further 28% make the food into faces or shapes and 19% have even pretended a vegetable wasn't a vegetable. One in 10 parents has also reported trying reverse psychology, as well as telling their offspring that the vegetables are treats.

Despite the lengths that many parents go to, the battle can seem like a tireless one. 63% of parents said that have caught their children hiding healthy food to pretend that they have eaten it, 26% have caught their kids feeding food to the dog, while 22% have seen their child stashing food in bags.

When these efforts are unsuccessful, the study points to a significant impact on parental wellbeing. Almost half (51%) feel concerned that a lack of food before leaving the house will affect their child’s performance and concentration levels at school, while 22% are worried they will be judged by teachers for allowing their children to go to school hungry.

19% said their child’s overall diet makes them feel like a terrible parent, yet, a fifth (20%) confessed to having bribed their children with sweets and treats to make them finish their food. A massive 91% of parents worry their children eat far too much sugar.

To help you encourage good eating habits for your children at mealtimes, nutritional therapist Alex Gear has the following tips:

  • Eat together with your children as much as possible. Not only is this an opportunity to interact with them on a social level but simply sitting and eating with them will encourage them to eat.
  • Eat the same food as your children; if you won’t eat it why should they? Only serve one option at mealtimes because different food options can lead to fussy eating later on. Children will often try to see how much they can push you with “I don’t like this” but, if you just explain that this is the only meal on offer and there is nothing else, chances are they will eat it.
  • Ensure there are no distractions, such as TV, phones or toys at the table. Children can become easily distracted.
  • Don’t let mealtimes turn into a fight of emotions. Be careful not to show any upset or anger that you may feel after preparing a meal which has been turned down. The children will notice this and it can then lead to an emotional battle.

A Flora spokesperson added, “We know mums and dads have a million and one things to think about – and providing children with a healthy and nutritious start to the day is a huge priority. We understand the daily struggles parents face to try and convince their little ones to enjoy a healthy meal when there are so many sugary and convenient treats available.

“At least 60% lower in saturated fat than butter, and naturally containing omega-3 and 6, a simple switch to Flora’s plant-based spread is a great way to set your family up for the day.”

You can seek tailored advice from a nutrition professional who will look at your child’s diet and suggest small tweaks to help them get all the nutrients they need. They can also offer advice for fussy eaters and ideas for quick to prepare breakfasts for those busy mornings.

To find a nutrition professional near you, enter your location in the box below:

Remember, starting your morning with a good breakfast is just as important as getting your kids ready for the day ahead. If you find yourself strapped for time, try our quick and easy rhubarb crumble porridge recipe - it can even be prepped the night before.

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