Skipping meals (19%) and cutting out food groups (43%) are both factors which 11-14 year olds believe can contribute towards leading a healthy lifestyle. In addition, when looking at how to make their lifestyles healthier, they do not consider limiting the amount of fast food (21%), fried food (58%) or sweets and chocolate (23%) they eat.
The findings come from a Sainsbury’s report which launched today in line with the start of this year’s Active Kids programme, in a bid to encourage children to eat well and exercise more.
Sainsbury’s polled 2,000 11-14 year olds to find out more about their attitudes towards health, nutrition and fitness, and the findings revealed that 84% of young people do believe that being healthy is important and 69% also think their lifestyle is healthy. These youngsters know it’s important to maintain a balanced diet (95%), eat their 5-a-day (95%), have an hour of exercise a day (93%), get enough sleep (91%) and drink 6-8 glasses of water (87%). However, despite this, 11-14 year olds rarely put this into practice, with the most concerning results including:
The research also found that over one fifth (21%) of young people refer to social media, YouTube stars, bloggers and online forums to find information on healthy eating. As vloggers, Instagrammers and other social media “stars” are often not qualified experts in nutrition and their advice is not monitored, it can be potentially misleading or simply wrong. It is therefore not surprising that so many young people are skipping meals, eating fast food and cutting out food groups, and those statistics increase significantly when it comes to social media users (from 43% to 50% when looking at whether cutting out a food group can lead to a healthy lifestyle).
Furthermore, when it comes to exercise the report found that surprisingly 81% of those polled enjoy being active with girls being motivated by looking good (31%) and boys by celebrities and sports stars (28%). However, despite the positive attitude, 28% do not exercise for an hour or more a day outside of their compulsory sessions at school and find barriers such as bad weather (43%) and not being good at sport (26%) stop them doing more.
Rachel Carrington, Sainsbury’s Active Kids Manager, said “The 11-14 year old period is the time when children make the transition from primary to secondary school and have more freedom to make their own decisions about what they eat and the exercise they do. We commissioned this report to delve into the current issues surrounding young people’s health and fitness so we can continue to evolve our Active Kids programme to address the pressure points facing children and young teens today. Our ambition is to equip young people with the knowledge and support to make changes that allow them to eat well and live well both now and in the future. It’s clear from the findings that we must find solutions to ensure these trends do not become the new normal in society.”
The Sainsbury’s Active Kids voucher collection scheme, now in its thirteenth year, kicks off this month and is a long standing programme which donates millions of pounds worth of equipment and experiences to UK schools and kids’ clubs. So far the scheme has invested £170 million and recruited ambassadors from the world of health and fitness such as footballer Daniel Sturridge and Paralympian Jonnie Peacock, to promote a healthier way of life.
Talking about the programme, England and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge said: “Encouraging children to participate in sport and to educate them about eating well is a real passion of mine. I helped in the kitchen from a young age and my dad and uncles were professional footballers so they taught me about the nutrition required for a professional athlete to perform at their best.”
As part of Sainsbury’s’ role to promote healthy living the brand will be working with businesses and public organisations to empower young people. From giving a greater availability of sports and facilities outside of school to ensuring responsible product promotion and clearer labelling and portion size guidelines, there is plenty that can be done help shift the dial when it comes to children’s current and future state of health.
To view the full report and for more information on the Sainsbury’s Eat well. Move well. Live well Report, click here.