Children are pestering parents for unhealthy food who find they are unwilling or unable to resist, a survey has found.
Almost three quarters of parents admitted they had bought chocolate, sweets or crisps for their kids when they hadn’t intended to as a result of pressure. And 69 per cent of parents thought they could do more to make their child’s diet healthier.
The survey of more than 1,000 parents for the Children’s Food Trust was carried out to identify areas that make it difficult to feed children well.
Sixty-five percent of those questioned said they would support a ban on advertising all food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm.
Current restrictions limit this advertising during children’s programming but don’t extend to more general programming that is on in the early evening when children may still be watching TV.
Research from the University of Newcastle recently found that despite the introduction of limits on advertising during children’s programmes, children are actually being exposed to more ads for high salt, sugar and fat foods because of the volume of this type of advertising during general programming.
Going out to eat is also a minefield, with kids menus often crammed with poorer quality food such as chicken nuggets, sausages and pizza.
Almost nine out of ten of parents would like to see healthier children’s menus and 83 per cent said they would like to see smaller portions from the adult menu offered too.
The majority of respondents (79%) wanted more regulations put in place for those feeding children so there would be a minimum nutritional requirement for the food offered by any organisation looking after children.
Rob Rees, chairman of the Children’s Food Trust, said: “Parents have such a tough job to encourage their children to eat healthily – and what’s clear is that they think there are lots of ways we could make their lives easier.
“This isn’t about a ‘nanny state’ – it’s about what will help rather than hinder parents in feeding their children well. If we’re serious about reducing the crippling costs to the NHS of poor diet, we need to get behind parents on this.”