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Sugar and spice and and all things nice?

Posted on 04 June 2013 .
Tags: children's nutrition, food, ingredients, nutrition

When we were young many of us learned from nursery rhymes that little girls are made from sugar and spice and all things nice. But have your ever thought that fish fingers are made from chicken? Well, according to research conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), nearly one in five primary children believes this to be true.

The results of the research conducted with over 27,500 children have been released to coincide with the launch of the BNF's  Healthy Eating Week. The week aims to promote healthy eating and physical activity amongst children. It also aims to improve children's knowledge of cooking and where food ingredients come from. More than 3,000 schools have already signed up. This means that over one million children and young people will have the opportunity to learn what food should be on their plates and where that food comes from.

Promoting healthy eating and healthy lifestyles is valuable, both for this generation and those that follow. However, it’s also valuable to make sure the message of healthy eating – and the benefits of adopting a healthier lifetsyle – is getting through

This is where the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) is so important. NatCen has been running NDNS since its launch in 2008 and it has recently been awarded the contract to continue running it up to 2017. Each year we ask over 500 adults and 500 children to complete detailed diaries of everything they eat and drink for 4 days. We also ask them questions about their lifestyle, including how much physical activity they get. The survey tells us about the diet and nutrient intake of the population – like how much fruit and vegetables, saturated fat and added sugar adults and children of different ages are eating.

From the data we’ve collected already we know a few things about the need to promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. We know that only 11% of boys and 8% of girls aged 11-18 eat the recommended 5 portions of fruit and veg each day. The number of adults eating the recomended “5 a day” is not much higher, at  only 31%.

Our data, as well as the BNF’s research, shows that there is still plenty of room for educating both adults and children about the foods that should be on our plates. There’s also plenty we can learn from further research into the foods that are already on our plates and where we think it really comes from. After all, until a couple of months ago I thought that the beef in lasagne came from cows!

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