Food education among children still lacking, according to BNF

12 June 2017 by
Food education among children still lacking, according to BNF

New research from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) has found that one in ten 14 to 16-year-olds in the UK think tomatoes grow underground, and a quarter of primary school children think cheese comes from plants.

The research, conducted as part of the BNF's annual Healthy Eating Week, surveyed more than 5,000 schoolchildren aged 5-16, and found that more than one in ten (13%) of 8 to 11-year-olds said pasta came from an animal, and almost one fifth (18%) of 5 to 7-year-olds said fish fingers were made of chicken. The survey also found one in ten 11 to 14-year-olds did not know carrots and potatoes grow underground.

Children in the survey were asked to indicate where they source their information on healthy eating from. More than half (54%) of 11 to 14-year-olds quoted the internet, increasing to almost two thirds (64%) for the 14 to 16 age group.

Schools are reported as the second biggest source of information for 14 to 16-year-olds (51%); almost two thirds (59%) of 11 to 14-year-olds rely on schools to provide them with the correct information.

Despite knowing they should eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, children still do not know what should be included in their five. 14 to 16-year-olds said strawberry jam and boiled potatoes contributed to a person's ‘five a day' (25% and 50%, respectively) although, eight in 10 (82%) 11 to 14-year-olds did know dried fruit or vegetables counted towards that.

49% of primary school children reported hitting their five a day, but only 27% of 14 to 16-year-olds. However, more than half (51%) of primary school children reported eating four or fewer portions of fruit and vegetables the day before; 67% of secondary school children reported the same. More than one in ten (12%) of 14 to 16-year-olds answered they had none.

Roy Ballam, managing director and head of education at the British Nutrition Foundation, said: "With no formal professional support provided to teachers centrally, schools and individual teachers take on the responsibility for interpreting and delivering the curriculum in their own way. This approach means that there is a risk of conflicting or misleading messaging being disseminated through schools across the UK. This, combined with the latest results of the survey showing that the internet is one of the most popular sources of information for teenagers, means that it has never been more important for schools and teachers to be armed with the correct information so that children and young adults are able to decipher between fact and fake news."

Public sector focus: The challenges school caterers still face >>

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