Although 84% of children agreed that it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle and knew what steps needed to be taken, many of them failed to eat enough fruit and vegetables, drink enough water, exercise enough or limit their junk food intake. 13% of those surveyed said that they didn't even think it was important to eat healthily when young, 21% believed that fast food was a healthy option and 71% said they did not limit their sweet and chocolate consumption. 31% of the 11 to 14 year olds surveyed, admitted they didn't even think about whether the food they ate was healthy or not.
Factors influencing children living increasingly unhealthy lifestyles include the rise in social media, the increased availability of junk food and the move away from home cooking. Children of this age have greater freedom to make decisions but often lack the proper information, leading to poor judgment. Skipping meals, cutting out food groups, avoiding exercise and eating too much fast food is leading many young people into unhealthy lifestyles.
31% of young people said healthy food is boring and cited that as a reason for not eating more healthily. While 48% of children said they'd rather be doing other things than getting exercise including using social media and playing video games.
Young people need to be educated and empowered into taking positive steps towards a healthier lifestyle. To get my children interested in nutrition and to give them the tools they require to make good choices, I've always included them in the kitchen and encouraged them to help out with meal planning and food preparation. Kezia, is now 14 and has a few good meals that she can make in her repertoire, including a really delicious and healthy lentil and sweet potato curry. Healthy eating most definitely does not have to be boring!
Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry Recipe
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium carrots
1 sweet potato
1 large white potato
1 cup of red lentils
3 cups of water
vegetable stock cube
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
ground black pepper
1 small can coconut milk
Chop the onions and gently fry in coconut oil until softened.
Add the chopped garlic and spices and fry for a further few minutes.
Add peeled and chopped carrots, potato and sweet potato and lentils.
Stir to coat.
Add water and the stock cube.
Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
(Add more water if it needs it.)
Once the vegetables are cooked through add the coconut milk and stir through.
Serve with rice for a wholesome meal.
When it comes to exercise, 41% of kids say that they 'could do more'. We lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles sat behind computer screens or on our phones for hours on end. Although my 7 year old does after school gymnastics and swimming lessons, my 14 year old is no longer interested in doing any extra-curricular sports. As a family, we try to go walking a few times a month. It is a fun way to get some gentle exercise and to spend time together free from technology. As the weather improves, I'm hoping that we will get to do a lot more of this, helping my children be more active and keeping us all fit.
*Sainsbury’s will use the findings of this research to evolve their Active Kids programme for 2018 and help to continue to progress towards responsible measures that help young people and their families eat well, move well and live well.