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Worrying trend in snacking habits may be contributing to ‘obesity crisis’ amongst families

The National Charity Partnership has discovered that UK snacking habits are risking families’ long-term health.

A survey [1] commissioned by the partnership between National Charity Partnership, a partnership between the three organisations, found that nearly half of all adults (46 percent) worry about the extra calories their families consume through unhealthy snacks [2], yet more than one quarter (27 percent) never actively choose nibbles that are low in fat and sugar. In fact, despite nearly half of adults worrying about snacking habits, around a third of parents are still regularly offering crisps (34 percent) or biscuits (32 percent) as snacks for their children either alongside or in between meals.

 Katherine Hale, Prevention Programme Manager for the National Charity Partnership, said: “Eating foods high in fat and sugar on a regular basis can contribute to increased calorie consumption – which can then increase the likelihood of being overweight. It’s particularly concerning that crisps and biscuits are still popular snacks for children because the food habits we learn at a young age can become ingrained and stay with us into adulthood.

“By developing unhealthy habits, you may be risking your family’s health. Regularly consuming ‘empty calories’ from snacks that contain lots of calories but little to no nutrients heightens your risk of obesity and the long-term conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease associated with this.“

As the summer holidays come to an end and a new school year begins, the National Charity Partnership is launching its Snack Goals Challenge to help UK families to start the new term right by making some healthy snack swaps to curb those junk food cravings and improve their long-term health.

The partnership is encouraging people to set a goal to ‘eat healthy snacks’ using its online 8 Week Challenge. To support the challenge the partnership has developed a series of articles to provide affordable and tasty recipe inspiration at on the Let's Do This websiteIdeas include swapping crisps and biscuits for air-popped popcorn with cinnamon or spicy chilli.

Ms. Hale said: “Snacks are usually small and so can seem insignificant. However, the reality is that the calories they provide can really add up, especially for children. By making a change now and taking our Snack Goals Challenge, to swap to healthier snacks it will help you stay on track and kick those bad snacking habits. For even more motivation, take the challenge with the whole family or friends for that extra element of competition.”

The most common reason why people shun snacks low in fat, sugar or salt was lack of variety and that it gets boring (20 percent). Almost one in five people (17 percent) said that healthier snacks cost too much money and 15 percent claimed their family prefers the taste of snacks like crisps and chocolate.

The survey also found, adults in London have a sweet tooth when it comes to snacking choices, with mid-afternoon the most popular time to snack. Four of the top five most regularly consumed snacks for adults hit the sweet spot and include biscuits (36 percent) and chocolate bars (26 percent).

The National Charity Partnership between Diabetes UK, the BHF and Tesco is working to help millions of people look after their bodies and reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease by moving more and eating healthily.

 

To get involved set your goal at the challenge.lets-dothis.org.uk and upload your healthy snack ideas on social media using the #snackgoalschallenge.

 

 

Notes to editors:

 

  1. Survey of 2,000 UK people. Mortar London. July 2017. Key findings include:
  • Of the participants surveyed nearly half (46percent) said they worry about the extra calories their families consume through snacking. Over one quarter (27 percent) have not tried to actively choose snacks that are low in fat, sugar and salt for themselves and their families.
  • The six most common snacks offered to children by parents surveyed were: fruit (59 percent), yoghurt (46 percent), crisps (34 percent), cereal bar (34 percent), biscuits (32 percent), or vegetables (30 percent)
  • A fifth of adults list the most important barrier to consuming healthier snacks as alack of variety and that it gets boring (20 percent). Almost one in five people (17 percent) said that healthier snacks cost too much money and 15 percent claimed their family prefers the taste of snacks like crisps and chocolate
  • The five most common snacks chosen by adults are: fruit (51 percent), biscuits (36 percent), yoghurts (32 percent) and chocolate bars (26 percent), which can contain varying levels of fat and sugar

 

  1. By unhealthy snacks we mean processed foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar. See NHS Choices website for more information.