5 a Day Junk Food

by Parents for Health Team on November 23, 2011

unhealthy lifestyle habits in children

Unhealthy diet and the couch potato lifestyle have become a normal part of life for many of our children

Great news – new research shows that children are getting their five a day! But wait – they’re not getting their essential five daily portions of fruit and veg, they’re getting five portions of junk food.

The survey was carried out by the British Heart Foundation, who looked at the diet of two thousand 11 to 16 year olds. Typical daily diet for these children included:

  • One packet of crisps
  • One chocolate bar
  • One bag of chewy jelly sweets
  • One fizzy drink and
  • One energy drink

This is a disaster waiting to happen – these dietary choices put our children at increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain cancers.

Even More Bad News…

The survey comes hard on the heels of US research suggesting that today’s teens will die younger from heart disease. Out of 5,547 the children and adolescents surveyed, none met the criteria for ideal cardiovascular health. The survey revealed:

  • Terrible diets – most kids have a diet that is high in sodium and sugar-sweetened drinks, without enough fruits, vegetables, fibre or lean protein
  • Low levels of physical activity
  • Many children with high blood sugar levels
  • High levels of obesity

The survey formed part of the US 2003 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

What Does This Mean?

The diseases that kill us in adulthood – heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer – have their roots in childhood. We need to reduce the risk factors for these diseases by helping our children to develop healthy lifestyle habits:

  • Regular physical activity – our kids need to have active habits, being active for 60 minutes each day
  • Healthy eating – we need to get our kids weaned off junk food and give them healthy eating habits

This isn’t going to be easy – but we need to change things for our kids or we could be looking at the first generation who have worse life expectancy than their parents.

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