Healthy frustration

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Health

Chips, chicken nuggets and ice cream. The kids menu at the local pub is enough to get most nutritionists running for cover. But are things any better at school or the supermarket? Elaine Watson finds out

We've all heard the jokes about school meals and great British pub grub, but with 30,000-plus lines in the average superstore, you'd think it would be pretty easy to find something healthy at your local Tesco that your kids actually want to eat.

Apparently not, according to 659 parents polled by market researcher Harris Interactive for Food Manufacture​.

Despite the wealth of child-friendly pre-sliced fruit packs, dedicated children's ranges from Waitrose Food Explorers and Tesco Kids to Sainsbury Blue Parrot Café, almost two-thirds (61%) of parents said finding healthy products that also appealed to their children in supermarkets was 'difficult' or 'almost impossible'.

When it came to the local pub, restaurant or fast food joint, a whopping 85% of respondents claimed that finding a healthy option on the menu for kids that was also appealing was tough or well-nigh impossible.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the bad press it has received over recent months, parents were equally unimpressed with school meals provision, with just 17% claiming that finding healthy and appetising food was easy and 57% experiencing problems.

Perhaps the silver lining to this depressing picture is that even if the healthier options on the market don't get their mouths watering, children are perceived to have fairly high levels of awareness of what constitutes a healthy diet, with 77% of parents claiming their kids have some understanding of nutrition.

While the survey is only based on parental perceptions, it is also interesting to note that the family, rather than friends, school or TV was felt to be the primary source of healthy eating advice, said Caroline North at Harris Interactive. "This shows how important it is to educate parents as well as children.

She adds: "There is a marketing issue here, as in supermarkets at least, there are clearly healthy options available. The issue may be whether unhealthy products are more successfully marketed to children and parents. FM

Which statement best reflects your view on meals targeted at children in pubs ?and restaurants?

Finding a healthy option for children in pubs and restaurants is usually easy 12%

Finding a healthy option for children in pubs and restaurants is sometimes difficult 57%

Finding a healthy option for children in pubs and restaurants is almost impossible 28%

None of these 1%

Not sure 2%

Which statement best reflects your view

Finding products in the

supermarkets that are healthy and

appealing to my children is easy 36%

Finding products in the

supermarkets that are healthy and

appealing to my children is

sometimes difficult 50%

Finding products in the

supermarkets that are healthy and

appealing to my children is almost impossible 11%

None of these 1%

Not sure 2%

Which statement best reflects your view on school meals provision in your children's school?

Finding meals at school that are

healthy and appealing to my

children is easy 17%

Finding meals at school that are

healthy and appealing to my

children is sometimes difficult 35%

Finding meals at school that are

healthy and appealing to my

children is almost impossible 22%

None of these 13%

Not sure 6%

My children aren't at school 7%

What is the primary source of your children's understanding of nutritional issues?

Family 74%

School 12%

TV 3%

Friends 1%

None of these 4%

Not sure 6%

How would you rank your children's awareness of what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet?

My children have a very high

awareness of what constitutes a

healthy, balanced diet 30%

They have some knowledge 47%

They have no real understanding 19%

None of these 2%

Not sure 2%

''This national survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive using the Harris Poll Global Omnibus between October 6-10, 2005 from a cross section of 659 adults who are parents of children aged 16 and under. Contact: Caroline North on 0208 263 5246 orpabegu@uneevfvagrenpgvir.pbz​''

Related topics: NPD

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