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Caithness News Bulletins August 2006

September 2006 August 2006

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Girl eating vegetablesIt appears that Jamie et al have got their message through to British children but we are letting them down. 79% of children surveyed nationally know they need five fruit and veg a day to be healthy, but a staggering 80% say they aren't getting any in their pack lunches and three quarters say they still have no vegetables in their school dinners. A shocking half of British kids claim they don't get any of their 'five-a-day' in mealtimes at home.

The research conducted by Green Giant, surveyed children aged 7-14 to determine if their attitudes to fruit and veg have evolved. The results showed that 87% of kids know that eating veg is healthy and over a quarter (28%) said they eat them so they can grow up big and strong. Carrots topped the list of favourite vegetables with 34% and sweet corn came in second with nearly a quarter (23%) of kids' votes. 88% of kids put chocolate, then fizzy drinks (85%) at the top of the unhealthy foods list.

With picky children the parents' role can be problematic, but child behaviour expert and author Eileen Hayes, suggests that colour may help when deciding what to put on your child's plate: "What was fascinating about the research is that it seems kids really don't like their 'greens'. Warm coloured food like carrots and sweet corn came out a long way on top – which is interesting when you think the likes of burgers, chips and chicken nuggets are all similar in colour. A good idea to wean children onto their greens is to mix them in small amounts with foods they like, like pasta or sweet corn."

The top ten kids' favourite vegetables are:

1. Carrots (34%) 6. Brussels Sprouts (3%)
2. Sweet corn (23%) 7. Onions (3%)
3. Broccoli (15%) 8. Runner beans (2%)
4. Peas (10%) 9. Cauliflower (2%)
5. Peppers (4%) 10. Leeks (1%)

Eileen says, "It's really interesting that children are taking notice of the 'five-a-day' message but they need adults they trust such as mum, dad and teacher to put it into practice otherwise the message loses value to them."

Sally Baxter, of Green Giant, said of the results: "It's great to see that children are really now aware of the five-a-day message and how important vegetables are for your diet but it is worrying to discover how many children are not getting the recommended daily amount in their meals at school or at home. At Green Giant we make it as easy as possible for busy mums to include vegetables in pack lunches and family dinners. A can of sweet corn is quick, easy and kids love it."

To get fruit and veg into your family's diet try these top tips from Green Giant and make sure you all get your five-a-day:

  • Add sweet corn to soup for a bit of crunch
  • Get kids to eat cooked broccoli and cauliflower by topping with bacon bits, croutons or shredded cheese
  • Sprinkle sweet corn over pizza for added flavour and colour
  • Add sweet corn to sandwich fillings for extra crunch
  • Use tomato based sauces on pasta as this will count towards their five a day
  • Add sweet corn to mash potato for a crunchy twist
  • Add chopped fruit to cereal for a sweet twist
  • Add sweet corn to Spaghetti Bolognese for extra tang
  • Add a tin of kidney beans and a dash of chilli to Bolognese for instant Chilli Con Carne
  • Use mashed up kidney beans instead of mince to make tasty veggie burgers
  • Add kidney beans to casseroles to add bulk and taste
  • Make macaroni cheese more colourful by adding kidney beans

Sweet corn counts as one of your 'five-a-day' and is enjoyed by kids so by opening a can and adding to pizza, pasta or sandwich fillings, it is a simple and speedy way to get your kids on their way to five-a-day.

Additional survey highlights:

  • Only just over half (58%) of kids in London know you need five portions of fruit and veg a day
  • The healthiest school dinner region is Scotland with 43% often eating veg. The unhealthiest is the North with 23% often having unhealthy foods
  • The healthiest packed lunches are in the South East and South West with 27% often having veg. The unhealthiest are in Wales with only 4% having veg
  • The healthiest home meals are in East Anglia with 75% of kids having veg. The unhealthiest are in the North with only a third (33%) having veg

* Independent research undertaken by BMRB Omnibus ( www.bmrb.co.uk ) in June 2006. The research questioned 536 children aged between 7-14 years from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.