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Over a Third of Adults Unaware of Government Healthy Eating Messages for Kids

Posted Apr 15 2010 12:00am


New research has revealed that Government advice on healthy eating is failing to make an impact on more than a third of parents, as 34% of those surveyed by Notcutts Garden Centres revealed they didn’t know their children should be eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.


The research from Notcutts also showed that five in six children are not eating the Government recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, with over a third (35%) of parents revealing that their children were eating just one or two portions a day.


Two thirds (66%) of parents surveyed by the gardening chain, as part of its Kitchen Garden campaign to encourage people to enjoy more fruit and vegetables by growing their own at home, said that they were worried about passing on their own bad eating habits to their children.  Less than a fifth (18%) of the 3,007 people surveyed ate the minimum recommended five a day themselves.


Parents admitted that their own fussy eating could be to blame for their children failing to eat their five-a-day: almost half (45%) of parents conceded that eating more fruit and vegetables themselves would encourage their kids to eat more greens, with two thirds (65%) saying they would like to be more adventurous with their food choices. Less than half (45%) of parents said that they included a piece of fresh fruit in their child’s lunchbox each day.


Notcutts are showing their appreciation for even the most maligned vegetables by introducing them into their restaurants this week, giving customers the chance to face their food fears.  Notcutts’ expert staff are on hand to advise people on how to get started on growing their own, whether they have a windowsill or spacious garden.


61% of parents don’t grow any fruit or vegetables at home, with a quarter saying that they couldn’t because they didn’t have a garden, and a third (32%) saying they didn’t have enough space to grow fruit or vegetables.


Healthy Eating Consultant and author of the book “Mange Tout” Lucy Thomas said: “Parents are crucial in getting children engaged with fruit and vegetables.  If a parent wants their child to eat broccoli but won’t touch the stuff themselves then success is unlikely. 


“Parents should revisit foods that they wrote off as children; our taste buds develop over time and it can take as many as ten or fifteen tries before we get used to new tastes.  Adults may be surprised to find that they now enjoy a fruit or vegetables they always thought they hated.”


Notcutts spokesperson Colin Dale said: “Growing fruit and vegetables is a great way to get produce at its best: fresh and in season.  We can buy any fruit or vegetable in any season now and that’s not giving us or our children the best experience of them at their peak.


“You don’t need a lot of space to grow your own: it can be a grow bag of tomatoes on your patio, or peppers on your windowsill.  There are lots of options available for all gardens and spaces – and lots of support to make your growing experience as successful as possible.”


For more information on Kitchen Garden and growing your own, go to .


Lucy Thomas’s top tips to get children eating more fruit and veg:


1. Children don’t like surprises either

How many times have we seen an unusual looking food and decided not to try it as we were not sure what it was?  Allow your child to touch the produce in supermarkets, ask questions and point out their favourite colour. Choose something new to take home and look at.


2. Involve children in the whole process

Let them help as much as you can with preparing the food. Yes, it might get messy but this can be a small price to pay when it will help your child take away some of the uncertainly which might be associated with the particular fruit or vegetable.


3. Avoid the words ‘Eat’ and ‘Try’

The meal table is one of the only areas in a child’s life where they can assert some power or control over their parent; by refusing to do something they are being asked to do!  Use unique methods like smelling, licking, kissing food as a way around this. And yes, you must lead by example!


4. Sharing mealtimes

It is very easy to think of mealtimes as an opportunity to “get a few things done” whilst your child is pre occupied with food. However more often than not your child is far more distracted by you emptying the dishwasher, answering the phone or hanging out the washing than being interested in what’s on their plate.


5. Your preferences

Children are great imitators, so will more often than not grow up sharing some of your likes/dislikes. Try and give your children the opportunity to try some different fruit and vegetables that don’t normally appear in your house. It may mean you have to grimace your way through a few Brussel Sprouts, but remember children will not yet know if they like them yet or not! They will only have the opportunity to enjoy them if they do not hear your negative inference in relation to them.



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