Schoolchildren display concerning lack of knowledge about the nutritional contents of many common foods

New findings published this week as part of Healthy Eating Week, have revealed a concerning lack of knowledge among schoolchildren about the nutritional contents of many common foods.

The survey results suggest that nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of primary schoolchildren and 17 per cent of secondary school children think that chicken counts towards your 5-a-day, while nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of primary school children think that cheese can be one of your 5-a-day.

The Healthy Eating Week survey results also show that just 23 per cent of older children know that carrots contain fibre, while only 60 per cent of secondary school children and 36 per cent of primary school children believe that wholemeal bread is a source of fibre. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of all schoolchildren think that chicken is a source of fibre, although it provides no fibre at all.

Sara Stanner, science director, British Nutrition Foundation, the publication of the Food Strategy is timely considering the release of the Government’s White Paper on the Food Strategy for England:

She said the Foundation is pleased to see that the Government recognises that teachers and school leadership have a vital role to play to improve child health, having introduced some measures around food education within the Levelling Up White Paper.

“But we need to recognise that food education is more than ‘cooking’ and must encompass learning around healthy eating and where food comes from, to enable young people to make healthier and more sustainable choices now and into the future,” Stanner added.

The BNF argues that lack of knowledge means people are less empowered to make informed choices, and achieving a healthy diet, with a good balance of the right types of foods, is more difficult if they don’t know which key nutrients different foods provide.

Through a series of free resources and activities, the British Nutrition Foundation’s Healthy Eating Week aims to help teachers and school leaders to educate children on the key principals of healthy diets and nutrition.

But the Foundation wants more support for schools and government-backed, bold initiatives to tackle the health and environmental challenges to make healthier and more sustainable choices easier and more accessible, improve the health of the nation and reduce health inequalities.

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