Northern Ireland news

Almost a quarter of children's diet is junk food, study says

Too much junk food can result in problems including childhood obesity
Mairead Holland

JUNK food accounts for almost a quarter of a child's daily diet in Northern Ireland, research has found.

Food such as crisps, biscuits, cakes, sweets and chocolate, which are high in fat, salt and sugar, are the second most consumed food group.

They are chosen ahead of fruit, vegetables and starchy carbohydrates which are recommended as part of a healthy diet.

The research, conducted by government body safefood, also reveals that children consume the highest amounts of junk food in the afternoon (40 per cent) and evening (25 per cent).


The research coincides with the latest phase of START, the public health awareness campaign by safefood, the Department of Health and the Public Health Agency.


The campaign is encouraging parents to give children healthier snacks and to only have treats in small amounts, and not every day.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director of human health and nutrition at safefood, said: “Parents want their children to feel cared for and not to be hungry when they get in from school or before dinner is ready.

"These junk foods, which are full of empty calories, fill that gap and are now a staple in our weekly shop and our children’s daily diets."


She added: “We struggle to avoid these treat foods every day because they’re available everywhere, highly palatable, cheap and frequently on special offer.”


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