herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Big drop in children having daily sugary treats

Safefood's campaign has seen a reduction in children eating sugary snacks
Safefood's campaign has seen a reduction in children eating sugary snacks

Parents are making healthy changes to their children's meals and are cutting down on sugary treats, new research has revealed.

Mothers and fathers are now more watchful of their children's eating, drinking and exercise needs.

The Safefood campaign to tackle habits that make children fatter is bringing much-needed improvements.

The percentage of children drinking fizzy drinks once a day or more has fallen from 45pc in 2013 to 40pc last year.

Children drinking water at mealtimes rose from 31pc in 2013 to 38pc last year.

Parents consciously serving smaller age-appropriate meal portions to children rose from 12pc in 2013 to 16pc last year.

The percentage of children getting at least an hour's physical activity a day rose from 59pc in 2013 to 65pc in 2014.

There has also been a reduction of 9pc in the number of parents giving treat foods to children every day.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said: "It's really heartening to see that families are paying closer attention to their children's diet and physical activity.

Crisis

"Childhood obesity is one of the biggest risks to this nation's future health.

"It looks like families are increasingly conscious of how even small changes to children's diet and physical activity can make a big difference."

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director of human health and nutrition at Safefood, added: "It's much too early to say that we've won the battle against childhood obesity.

"As a society we didn't reach this child weight crisis overnight nor will it be solved in one year but these results highlight that our campaign messages have really resonated with parents.

"It's not easy to cut down on sugary foods when children have become used to overindulging but parents are making really important changes; it's vital now to keep up this positive momentum.

"At present, one in four primary school children are overweight or obese. The prevalence of excess weight is also beginning earlier in childhood, with 6pc of 3-year-olds currently being obese."

Advice for parents is available on www.safefood.eu.

SEE PAGES 26-27

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