Campaign encourages healthier shopping habits

Safefood, the HSE and Healthy Ireland are encouraging parents to reduce the amount of treat foods given to children.

Research has revealed that almost one fifth of the average weekly family food shop is spent on highly processed treat foods like crisps, chocolates and sweets. This compares with only 10 per cent spent on fruit and seven per cent on vegetables.

The research found that, on average, families with children spent €1,037 last year on treat foods. In comparison, the spend on fruit was €521 and €346 on vegetables. Among treat foods, chocolate and sweets (€228 ), sugary drinks (€199 ), biscuits (€161 ) and crisps (€129 ) accounted for almost two thirds of the annual spend on treat foods. The research only included supermarket shopping trips and did not account for purchases in outlets such as garage forecourts, cafes and cinemas.

The research was carried out to coincide with the latest phase of START, the five-year public health awareness campaign from Safefood, the HSE and Healthy Ireland. The campaign is encouraging families to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle for their children.

Minister for State Catherine Byrne commented: “This research confirms the need for parents and all those who care for children to work together to improve children’s eating habits. Not only are these so-called treat foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt and contribute to overweight and obesity but equally important is the fact that if children fill up on these foods, they don’t have an appetite for the nutritious foods they need for good health and wellbeing.

“The healthy eating message from Healthy Ireland is that these foods should not be every day foods but maximum once or twice a week foods and in small amounts. Eating vegetables, fruit and salads are healthier choices and lay down the foundation of good eating habits for life. This campaign is by parents and for parents, and the motto is try and try again. Parenting is tough, but we know parents are tougher.”

To find out more about the START campaign visit www.makeastart.ie

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